HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) – The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County.
One of the first in the United States to receive the vaccine was a nurse from New York. A South Florida nurse has now received the first dose in the Sunshine State.
“Today is a wonderful day in the history of mankind,” said Dr. Dorinda Sergovia, vice president of pharmacy services at Memorial Healthcare System.
Memorial Regional Hospital is one of five hospitals in the state of Florida that have begun the initial inoculation rollout.
“We received the vaccine this morning. We received 19,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that’s going to be administered, as said, to our front-line healthcare workers,” said interim chief medical officer Thomas Macaluso.
Hospital administrators believe about 7,000 doses of the vaccine will be given to employees. The remaining 13,000 will go to other hospitals.
“This is a historic event. We’ve been on this journey for now 10 months. Our first patient came to us on March 7, and we’ve been working very hard. The 14,000 employees of the Memorial Healthcare System really were at the frontlines,” said Aurelio Fernandez, Memorial Health Care System’s president and CEO.
“Today, there is a ray of hope that is new for us, for our critical front-line caregivers,” said Dr. Maggie Hansen. “It has been very taxing for them professionally and personally.”
The frozen vials of the vaccine arrived at a facility Monday morning and need to be maintained at temperatures below -70 degrees Celsius.
Now hospital administrators said their primary focus will be to get it out to people who need it the most.
“With all the vaccines shipped to us, we have prepared for receipt, storage, preparation and distribution. Our goal will be 120 patients per hour,” Segovia said.
As COVID-19 cases continue climbing across the country and in South Florida, it’s no secret that front-line workers are overworked and in desperate need of a break.
There is still a long way to go in the fight against COVID-19, but officials said the vaccine is the most important step toward getting back to normal.
“This vaccine and the other vaccines that come down the pipeline are really gonna be the key tool to ending this pandemic, and we’re all looking forward to that,” Macaluso said.
Front-line workers, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, will be the first group to receive the vaccine.
Early Monday morning, a nurse at Tampa General Hospital was the first to receive the vaccine in Florida.
Those who receive the vaccine will be closely monitored for several months to see if they experience any adverse reactions.
Following the vaccination of healthcare workers will be the elderly and nursing home residents.
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