MIAMI (CBSMiami) –- Jackson Memorial Hospital received its first shipment of the Pfizer B coronavirioNTechus vaccine on Tuesday morning.
The CEO of the Jackson Health System called Tuesday “a very exciting day” and said he hoped that 19,500 medical professionals would be vaccinated in the next 7 days and said that the Jackson health system would be sending vaccines to all other Miami-Dade hospitals.
CEO Carlos Migoya said Jackson health System would be receiving its 2nd batch of the 19,500-second doses within 3 weeks.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “This is a huge step for the workers on the front line” and she cautioned people not to let their guard down. She said 4,000 people in Miami-Dade have died from the Coronavirus and the county was seeing 2,000 new cases every day.”
CBS4 was inside the hospital as doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel were vaccinated. The doses of the vaccine will be used first on frontline doctors and nurses who work in the most at-risk areas, then to the rest of the employees.
The Jackson Health System is one of five Florida health systems among the first to receive the vaccine.
ICU Medical Director Dr. David de la Zerda said “It is an amazing moment for Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami-Dade County. This is the beginning of the end and we are very excited.”
Dr. David Woosley of the Emergency Department said “This is a new way of fighting the disease. Rather than getting this disease, we are preventing people from getting this disease. And hopefully, we can one day return to normal. But we have to be careful. We have to change our behavior. A new wave is coming and we need to change our ways to avoid a disaster in the coming weeks. So the celebration is tempered by that.”
COVID Unit Nurse Yaimara Cruz said “It has been very challenging working with this and helping people can be very rewarding. I have a lot of trust in the science and I hope that this is what we need to stop the pandemic. But people have to remember to keep wearing their mask and keep up the protection.”
June Ellis, a nurse, “I am optimistic but we can not let our guard down. But I have to say I was tearful today when I SAW these health care workers receiving their vaccines. I do feel this is the beginning of the end.”
Dr. Lillian Abbo, an infectious diseases specialist, said “I saw a family member die inside these walls after not being able to breathe. I saw people infected. This vaccine is a chance to change history.”
Dr. Hansel Tooks said, “This is a part of history and a beginning of the end in this struggle.”
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Memorial Healthcare Systems in Broward County received its first shipment of 19,500 doses on Monday and began inoculating some of its frontline health care workers almost immediately.
UF Health in Jacksonville and Tampa General Hospital also received their shipment on Monday but Jackson Health and Advent Health in Orlando were receiving theirs a day later.
Pfizer sent the vaccine to 145 sites in 50 states.
JMH pathology assistant Dr. Fernando Acosta says he has good reason to get the vaccine.
“My wife got the virus and brought it home,” said Dr. Acosta who barely survived after contracting COVID-19.
“I was hospitalized for 5 days. I almost died,” he recalled. He said his symptoms were really bad. “That’s why I tell everybody take the vaccine. This is really, really hard on my body. I was almost reintubated. I almost died.”
Dr. Acosta plans to get inoculated as soon as he can at JMH.
“The feeling is it’s the only thing we have to stop the pandemic,” he said.
Dr. Maria Alcaide is the Director of Infectious Diseases at JMH. She is excited the Pfizer vaccine is here and plans to be one of the first to get the vaccine.
“I was one of the investigators in the trials and yes, I am scheduled to take it soon. This is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is really going to help. It’s the only way to stop the pandemic,” said Dr. Alcaide. “It’s going to mean the initial way to take precautions to take care of patients and the first step towards protecting us against the virus.”
Dr. Alcaide is urging people not to delay taking the vaccine.
“I think people who wait and see, it’s too risky with a lot of the virus circulating around there’s a bigger chance of getting infected and the numbers keep going up and the hospitals keep getting busy so wait and see is too risk,” she said.
Both doctors say they will get inoculated as soon as possible.
Jackson Health System will be sharing its vaccine with more than a dozen Miami-Dade hospitals.
Pfizer said nearly 3 million doses should be given in this first week nationwide.
In Miami-Dade, there are now more than a thousand hospital patients battling the virus. In Broward, doctors are helping more than 500, as of Tuesday.
With rising numbers, a full staff is needed now more than ever. That’s why Governor Ron DeSantis says frontline workers are first.
“Therefore, most likely, they don’t end up being isolated if you end up having an outbreak. Which there have not been a lot. But if you do,” the governor said.
While in West Palm Beach, the Governor explained why only five hospitals statewide received the first vaccine shipments.
“We were limited to five hospitals because they didn’t want to have it go to 200 hospitals and have any mistake,” he said.
Nursing homes are next to get help. The governor plans to explain more Wednesday. Then, he’s hopeful to offer a vaccine for seniors throughout the state, that means ones not living in nursing homes, by the end of this month or in January.
“If you can do that over the next 6 to 8 weeks, that’s going to have a huge impact,” the governor said.
And then he’s hopeful for Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine to be approved early next year. He believes that one will be widely available since it’s easier to store and it’s only one shot.