MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida hospitals began receiving the coronavirus vaccine on Monday and that included Memorial Healthcare System and Jackson Healthcare System in South Florida.
Memorial and Jackson are two of five healthcare systems in Florida chosen to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
At Memorial Healthcare System, the initial shipment arrived Monday morning and, per CDC guidelines, will be used to inoculate South Florida’s frontline workers in contact with COVID-19 patients.
WATCH: First COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment Arrives in South Florida
The first vaccination for COVID-19 in Florida went to Tampa General Hospital nurse Vanessa Arroyo during a news conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Arroyo received the Pfizer vaccine.
Pfizer is preparing to send nearly 3 million vaccines to a total of 636 locations nationwide in the first week.
“I am very excited. I mean, 95% effective. I hope everyone will be able to get the vaccine. It is fantastic. It is great for us,” said Jackson Memorial Hospital Social Worker Peggy Jones-Gonzalez, who has been on the front line as a social worker for 20 years.
Pfizer is sending its vaccines to total of 145 sites Monday in 50 states.
Jones-Gonzalez said she has had to deal with so many stressful situations since March because of the coronavirus.
“It’s been devastating. We have lost a lot of patients. It has been devastating. There has also been a lot of hardship. And yes it’s something to look forward to absolutely.”
Tangilar Dorsett has been a registered nurse for 21 years. She plans to be cautious.
“I will not be one of the first to take it. I will probably wait until some of the kinks are out so to speak. I am not ready to take it just yet,” said Dorsett.
She has her own reasons.
“I was one of the people who got the virus and it was very scary. I am also one of those people who have allergies so I have to wait.”
Still, she too admits that this is what so many people have been waiting for.
“I think it’s a great thing. I am glad we are finally able to do things about the virus. So I am hoping things will work out,” said Dorsett. “It gives up hope we are going to save lives. That we are going to save more lives.”
By the end of the week, Florida will have 179,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
CVS and Walgreens in Florida will receive 60,000 doses to distribute at long-term care facilities.
Hospitals will receive 100,000 doses and another 19,000 will go to the state.
DeSantis also said the hospitals will be a “beta test” for distribution across the rest of the state.
Right now, people over the age of 65 with health issues are being prioritized for the second shipment of the vaccine early next year, along with first responders and essential workers, like teachers and food distribution employees.
“This is a game changer. It’s a great a day for the United States and the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
Next week, DeSantis said, Florida will receive 365,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, pending approval on Thursday and Friday by the Food and Drug Administration. He said there’s also the possibility that Pfizer will provide “several hundred thousand” more doses by next week.
WATCH: Gov. Ron DeSantis News Conference On COVID Vaccine Arrival
The vaccine won’t likely be available to the general public until the spring.