MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Preparations are underway for the arrival of the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccinations to South Florida.
“We’ve been told that we’re going to receive 20,000 doses on this go around,” said Dr. Tom Macaluso, Interim Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Regional.
He said they’re ready to begin vaccinations of front line health care workers when they get the green light.
“We have storage capacity in our freezer. We’ve identified vaccinators who can basically vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day. We’ve identified our at-risk work force,” he said.
And he said medical staff appears to be ready for the series of two shots. “One of our departments who work in a reasonably high-risk area 100% of them said they’d be on board,” Dr. Macaluso said.
Jackson Memorial will get the vaccine too.
“We should receive the vaccine sometime early next week,” said Venessa Goodnow, Jackson Health Chief Pharmacy Officer. “That will allow us to start vaccinating some of our healthcare workers,” she said.
Half of the employees at Jackson participated in a survey. It found just 49.9% said they’re interested in getting the vaccine right away, another 35.7% said they’re not interested in the first round and about 14.9% said they’re not at all interested.
“I will definitely get in line and take that vaccine,” said Dr. Ari Ciment.
The pulmonologist has been on the frontlines since the very beginning of the pandemic.
He said it’s been a tough battle at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
But Thursday he said he is feeling optimistic.
“The feeling is actually very nerve-racking because you are finally more nervous the last couple of weeks waiting and being like, ‘Oh my God, now I have to be extra crazy careful because I really want to get that vaccine,’” he said.
Pfizer’s vaccine has shown to be 95% effective.
Dr. Ari Ciment advises those most at risk to take the vaccine once its available.
“I would hold off recommending pregnant women, right now,” he said. “But in terms of high-risk sub groups, right now, anyone over 65, anyone over 55 with hypertension, diabetes. Anyone even younger who, except for kids, who have a high BMI.”
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Baptist Health and other South Florida hospitals will get their share of vaccines for front line workers from Jackson and Memorial Regional. Baptist showed us their warehouse, where preparations are already underway. About 70% of their frontline workers plan to get the shot.
“When are you hoping to get those shots in the arms?” CBS4’s Ted Scouten asked Madeline Camejo, Baptist Health Chief Pharmacy Officer. “
“By probably next Wednesday. We’re partnering with Jackson right now so that we can start vaccinating our employees,” she said.
Bill Nabors is a pharmacist at University Pharmay in Coral Gables. “I’m going to take the vaccine as soon as we get one,” he said.
He, like many of us, are not eligible to get the vaccine yet. But he said clients have been asking about it a lot. He gives it a thumbs up.
“The average person is not going to be in any more danger from this vaccine than they would from a flu vaccine or a pneumonia vaccine, or your kids getting mumps, rubella, or polio, all that sort of thing,” he said.
After the vaccine gets FDA approval, it can be shipped. However, before the shots are given the CDC still has to sign off on it. Their advisory panel has meetings set for Friday and Sunday.