TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida is ready to make use of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses after federal officials gave the green light on Friday.
The first shipments of the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech headed from Michigan to distribution centers across the country on Sunday, with the first shots expected to be given in the coming week to health care workers and at nursing homes.
In Florida, besides the hospital distribution of 97,500 doses for health care workers, Governor Ron DeSantis said CVS and Walgreens have a contract with the federal government’s Health and Human Services to get more 60,000 people vaccinated in long-term care facilities.
The governor said the state’s health department will also deploy “strike teams” to other nursing homes, mentioning Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg, and Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale, to add to the private pharmacies’ effort with about 25,000 doses.
“To be able to have vaccines available for the most vulnerable residents that will be something that will be a game-changer,” DeSantis said. “We should be optimistic about what could be coming down the pike here.”
Federal officials say the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centers on Monday, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. The vaccine is being doled out based on each state’s adult population.
Another vaccine by Moderna will be reviewed by an expert panel next week and soon afterward could be allowed for public use.