MIAMI (WSVN) – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Officials with the hospital tweeted out a video of the vials arriving just before 12 p.m. on Tuesday.
Jackson Health System is excited to be among the first hospitals in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for our frontline healthcare workers. pic.twitter.com/o3xUZKx2VS
— Jackson Health System (@JacksonHealth) December 15, 2020
JMH healthcare workers who receive the Pfizer vaccine will be the first in Miami-Dade County, which has been the state’s epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic since March.
Nurse Yaiwmara Cruz has spent nine grueling months tending to patients in the COVID unit, and she’s one of the first in Miami-Dade County to receive the COVID-19 shot from Pfizer.
“I want this vaccine for the safety of my family, my patients, myself. I’ve been in the COVID unit since March,” Cruz said.
Emergency physician Dr. David Woosley said, “It’s been crisis after crisis.” Now he calls the inoculation a total game-changer.
“I’m gonna be personally protected, but the big thing is now we’re fighting this in a different way. If all of us do this, COVID goes away, and we get back to normal,” Woosley said.
The doctors and nurses will now have to receive their second dose of the vaccine in three weeks. With just the first dose, they already feel they have some level of protection.
“It’s an amazing moment, I think, for us here at Jackson and for entire Miami-Dade County,” said Dr. David de la Zerda.
For frontline medical workers like De la Zerda who now have the initial shot, clinical trials have shown if they are infected with COVID, there’s more than a 50% chance they won’t develop symptoms.
The effectiveness of the vaccine shoots up to 95% with the second dose.
“This is the beginning. This is the beginning of the end,” said associate chief nursing officer June Ellis.
It’s a special day for those administering the shot as well. Ellis took 7News inside the COVID ICU back in October.
On Tuesday, as she vaccinates her team, she finally gets to pass along the positive news.
“Before we came up here, we’re all sitting downstairs talking, and I don’t think there was anyone that wasn’t tearful thinking about our patients, thinking about our healthcare workers, thinking about everything they’ve gone through, and honestly we think this is coming to an end now,” Ellis said.
The vaccines arrived at Jackson frozen and need to be stored at temperatures below -70 degrees Celsius.
“We’re very, very excited today. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I can’t find a more exciting day than today,” said Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya. “The fact that we were able to get this vaccine as early as we have — many of us were doubtful we were able to get the vaccine as quickly as we have — has been a very important role.”
For many in the Jackson Health System, the vaccine’s arrival marks the beginning of the end of long, grueling year.
“I saw my family member die in these walls because they could not breathe. We’re seeing people getting infected. I have seen friends who have been three months in the intensive care unit. We have the opportunity to change history, and to me, I have tears in my eyes and I have a hard feeling of gratitude, an honor to be a part of this moment in history,” said Dr. Lilian Abbo.
Jackson became the second hospital in South Florida to receive the vaccine Tuesday.
Memorial Healthcare was the first hospital in South Florida to administer the vaccine.
“We received today 19,500 doses for which we are starting today with the Jackson employees and UM employees, and we’re quickly moving on to every other hospital in Miami-Dade County,” Migoya said.
The vaccine’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. FDOH reported more than 9,400 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, with about 30% in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.
This week, the death toll topped 20,000 residents, and on Tuesday health officials recorded another 79 lives lost.
“The arrival of the vaccine gives us hope, but it does not mean we are out of the woods. We must continue, over the next several months in this critical time period, to take all of the steps, and let us remember, 4,000 have died. We just passed that benchmark here in Miami-Dade County,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Baptist Health will begin administering doses of the vaccine Wednesday.
Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.