Hospital workers receive second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as officials work to ramp up public vaccinations

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville hospital workers are receiving their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as health department officials are still working to ramp up the volume of vaccinations given to the general public.

As of Wednesday, more than 16,000 people in Duval County had been vaccinated, according to Florida Department of Health data. Many of those who have been vaccinated are hospital workers and nursing home residents.

Baptist Health in Jacksonville reported it is vaccinating around 1,000 people each day and expects to be through its allotment of the vaccine by the end of the week.

Bernadette Belgado, director of pharmacy at UF Health Jacksonville, said Wednesday that the hospital has vaccinated close to 50% of its workforce and planned to administer second doses of the vaccine to 700 of its workers. The hospital has now begun scheduling established UF Health patients to get the vaccine.

“Those folks can call our access center or appointment line,” Belgado said. “They can make an appointment through their respective clinic to make a vaccine appointment.”

Belgado said UF Health has received another shipment for their second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The state Department of Health in Duval County is leading the effort to vaccinate the general public in Jacksonville at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. A spokesperson for the Duval County agency confirmed two senior centers, Lane Wiley Senior Center and Mandarin Senior Center, have been approved to become vaccination clinics. Both will be operated by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

On Tuesday morning, city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes told the Jacksonville City Council that the administration, in accordance with the Department of Health, is aiming to vaccinate 10,000 people a day. Hughes told council members that on the first day of public vaccinations, 1,063 were vaccinated.

“If you do the math, at 1,000 a day, that’s not going to do it, so we need to get north of 10,000 a day to really get this thing moving,” Hughes said. “And it’s our goal to make that as fast as possible.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said city officials have no control over the shipments of the vaccine coming to Duval County but did not comment on if the city had enough vaccines to reach their goal of 10,000 vaccinations a day.

“We don’t control the supply chain nor does the state,” Curry said. “This is a massive federally coordinated effort. We are a city of many. We are one state of many.”

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