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Health News Florida

Five Florida Hospitals Will Be Among First To Store COVID-19 Vaccine

TGH_Exterior_Day_Feb08.jpg
Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital will be among the first five hospitals across Florida to store the vaccine while they wait for final approval to use it, officials said.

The vaccine stored will be whichever is approved first, possibly the candidate from Pfizer, which is expected to ask the FDA for emergency approval on Friday,

Updated at 7 a.m.

The new COVID-19 vaccine — not yet approved for use — is on its way to five Florida hospitals.

The hospitals will store the vaccine while they wait for final approval from the Food and Drug Administration, officials said Wednesday. The vaccine stored by hospitals will be whichever is approved first, possibly the one developed by Pfizer, which is expected to ask the FDA for emergency approval on Friday,

The hospitals are Tampa General Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, AdventHealth Orlando and UF Health Jacksonville.

The hospitals can store the Pfizer vaccine at a necessary cold temperatures. The other vaccine candidate expected to seek approval at this time was developed by Moderna.

Dr. Seetha Lakshmi, an assistant professor of infectious disease at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and an epidemiologist for Tampa General. says essential workers will be the first people to receive it.

“The health care workers on the front lines are going to be priority No. 1, so that is Phase 1,” Lakshmi said. “And anybody who is at risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their job – so all the essential workers on the front line – will be in the Phase 1 of the vaccine.”

It’s still not clear how many doses TGH will receive.

The first vaccines should start arriving in mid-December and another shipment is expected in January. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's hopeful the hospitals will receive vaccine shipments in the next three to six weeks.

"Now shortly thereafter or maybe even at the same time that hospitals are receiving the vaccine, both CVS and Walgreens will also begin receiving vaccine[s] to administer residents of long-term care facilities to, of course, our most vulnerable citizens when it comes to COVID-19," DeSantis said.

The Department of Health & Human Services is partnering with pharmacies and pharmacy workers in retail and grocery stores to increase availability and distribution. In a statement, the agency said most Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.

Information by Health News Florida's Kerry Sheridan (WUSF), Robbie Gaffney (WFSU) and WLRN partner The South Florida Sun Sentinel was used in this report.