By Jessica Vallejo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Preparations are underway for the arrival of the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine.

“The vaccine is going to be the major tool to bring an end to this pandemic,” said Dr. Tom Macaluso.

Dr. Macaluso is the interim chief medical officer at Memorial Regional.

He said they are ready to begin vaccinations and expect 20,000 doses on the first go around.

“We would literally be looking at a potentially years of waves of battling this pandemic. With the ability to vaccinate a large number if our citizens, we could potentially see it come to an end,” he said.

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An initial shipment of about 2.9 million doses of the vaccine will be sent to the U.S. over the next week. More than 179,000 doses are coming to Florida.

“We are expecting the COVID-19 vaccine and we have our -80 refrigerators needed to store the vaccine,” said Vanessa Goodnow, chief pharmacy officer for Jackson Health System.

Of course priorities have been set to help protect the most vulnerable.

Residents of long-term care facilities will be able to get vaccinated in the first round.

Also on the top of the list are health care workers.

Pfizer’s vaccine has shown to be 9% effective.

Dr. Ari Ciment, a pulmonologist, 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.”

Jessica Vallejo