South Florida pub­lic hos­pi­tals will get vac­cine for COVID-19 in a few weeks

Jack­son Health­care and Me­mo­rial Health­care, pub­lic-hos­pi­tal sys­tems in South Florida, will be among the first to get the Pfizer vac­cine for COVID-19.

Miami Herald - - Front Page - BY BEN CONARCK bconarck@mi­ami­her­

Two ma­jor pub­lic-hos­pi­tal net­works in South Florida have been tapped to re­ceive some of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vac­cine can­di­date, con­sid­ered to be a front-run­ner in the fight to end the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Jack­son Health Sys­tem in Mi­ami-Dade County and Me­mo­rial Health­care Sys­tem in south­ern Broward County are among a hand­ful of providers that are work­ing with the Florida De­part­ment of Health to help roll out about a mil­lion doses. The com­pany’s pre­lim­i­nary data has shown the vac­cine to be 95% ef­fec­tive across all age groups.

The com­pany on Fri­day an­nounced it was seek­ing emer­gency ap­proval from the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the first step in a process that could lead to giv­ing vac­cine doses to front-line health­care work­ers as soon as next month. The vac­cine could be in Me­mo­rial’s freez­ers by the end of Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Tom Ma­caluso, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and in­terim chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the Bro


ward hos­pi­tal network.

Ma­caluso said on Fri­day that his un­der­stand­ing is that Florida will re­ceive 1 mil­lion doses of the vac­cine and dis­trib­ute it across the state to hos­pi­tals. Those fa­cil­i­ties would then re­ceive an­other 1 mil­lion at some point for the sec­ond dos­ing of ev­ery­one who re­ceived the vac­cine in the first round. Ma­caluso said both the ef­fi­cacy of the vac­cine and the tim­ing ex­ceeded his ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It’s cer­tainly quicker than any­body thought,” he said.

A spokesper­son for Jack­son said that the hos­pi­tal network ex­pected a ship­ment in midDe­cem­ber.

“Dur­ing the first phase, the vac­cine will be avail­able for front­line health­care work­ers in hos­pi­tals, long-term care staff and res­i­dents, and first re­spon­ders,” the hos­pi­tal

network said in an emailed state­ment.


At Me­mo­rial, the hos­pi­tal sys­tem is set­ting up a vol­un­tary vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram for its em­ploy­ees. It would start with doc­tors, nurses and other health­care staff mem­bers who work in COVID wards, then move through­out the sys­tem to other providers and high­risk pa­tients.

“It is an emer­gency use au­tho­riza­tion so we’re cer­tainly not com­fort­able with man­dat­ing peo­ple take it,” Ma­caluso said. “That also speaks to what our de­mand is go­ing to look like.”

Ma­caluso said the hos­pi­tal network could po­ten­tially have hun­dreds of thou­sands of doses of the vac­cine this win­ter.

The hos­pi­tal network pur­chased two freez­ers, Ma­caluso added, in case it hadn’t dis­trib­uted all of the doses from the first round of vac­ci­na­tion when the sec­ond doses ar­rived. The Pfizer vac­cine must be kept at ex­traor­di­nar­ily cold tem­per­a­tures in spe­cial freez­ers.

For those who re­ceive the doses, the two in­jec­tions might be enough to last quite a while, ac­cord­ing to a study in­di­cat­ing that the immune sys­tem’s mem­ory of a novel coro­n­avirus-in­fec­tion could last sev­eral years, ward­ing off fu­ture in­fec­tions.

“We’re all look­ing for some­thing that’s hope­ful.,” Ma­caluso said in ref­er­ence to the study. “That’s some­thing that’s hope­ful.”


Pfizer says its COVID-19 vac­cine is 95% ef­fec­tive across all age groups.

Mi­ami Her­ald file

A Jack­son spokesper­son said the hos­pi­tal network ex­pected a vac­cine ship­ment in mid-De­cem­ber. ‘Dur­ing the first phase, the vac­cine will be avail­able for front­line health­care work­ers,’ the hos­pi­tal network said.

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