JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In Jacksonville, UF Health hospital vaccinated its largest number of people this week.
Now the vaccine is moving beyond frontline doctors and nurses.
At UF Health, officials planned to vaccinate more than 700 people Wednesday. They have opened vaccinations up to not only healthcare workers but also all hospital staff.
Hattie Martin, a parking attendant, is one of the first faces people see when they come to the hospital.
“People they are either coming to visit somebody or they are coming themselves,” said Martin. “I have to put all my stuff aside and think about them.”
She’s worked as the parking attendant for UF Health for 23 years. At 64, she is at-risk to be severely ill if she were to be infected with COVID-19.
She’s one of the hundreds of healthcare workers, and now hospital support staff, showing up to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have great-grandchildren,” Martin said. “I also work at the school and being around people, the ministers in my church. Yes, I was glad. I was happy.”
On Wednesday, operating nurses, security and healthcare workers at off-site clinics got vaccinated.
So did Dr. Ruchir Puri, a General Surgeon at UF Health.
“As surgeons, we have been seeing COVID patients for a year now,” Puri said. “It’s impacted all of us, and it’s hard because you are used to people coming in and mostly getting better, but this is one disease that we don’t really have a robust cure and we have to watch helplessly people not do well and some people die and that is very hard for us.”
“When you get something like this, a vaccine that offers a chance, that at some point we won’t be helpless that we can actually help patients it’s a no brainer to get the vaccine,” he continued.
So far, five hospitals in Florida have received shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Long-term care facilities are now a high priority.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that people in 112 facilities are expected to be vaccinated in the next week. No word on which facilities are included in that count.
There is a priority for Broward and Pinellas County because they have a lot of cases.
DeSantis said another 367,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine could come to the state as soon as this weekend if the drug gets emergency use authorization. But it’s unclear where the drugs would go first.
Hattie Martin says she’s glad to be a part of the group with access to the vaccine.