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What The Rollout Of First Vaccines Will Look Like In Tampa Bay

The new COVID-19 vaccine freezers are unveiled at Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital
The new COVID-19 vaccine freezers are unveiled at Tampa General Hospital

Tampa General Hospital is expected to begin distributing the first Pfizer vaccine doses early next week. The first shipments are expected by Dec. 15.

Tampa General is one of five hospitals in the state that are getting ready to distribute the first vaccine against the coronavirus.

The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are expected by Dec. 15. They'll be kept in two special freezers that keep the vaccines at a crisp 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, or minus 70 Celsius. Each freezer can hold about 30,000 doses.

The first group of people targeted will be front-line health care workers who work with COVID-19 patients every day. Nursing home workers are next up.

"By the end of this year, I think a lot of that phase one vaccination program will be in full swing. So it's an exciting time, I think, for the area," said Dr. Jason Wilson, associate medical director of Tampa General's emergency room.

"CVS, Walgreens, I think are the two commercial suppliers that will be helping to distribute it out to the long-term care facilities and nursing homes. That beginning stage here, most of Tampa General's efforts will, you know, that very first early wave will be to get it to health care workers and then see if we can start to move it throughout the community," he said.

TGH has set up 20 locations throughout the greater Tampa Bay region to serve as immunization sites once enough doses are available that the hospital can start distributing vaccines to the general public.

This is a two-dose vaccine, so Wilson says people will have to get a second dose after 28 days.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine within days.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.