AdventHealth Orlando will be among first Florida hospitals to receive COVID-19 vaccine, official says

First doses of vaccine could arrive within weeks

ORLANDO, Fla. – AdventHealth Orlando will be one of the first hospitals in Florida to receive doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is approved, according to a spokesman for the company.

The spokesman released the following statement Thursday, saying AdventHealth was selected by state health officials to be among the first sites in Florida to distribute the vaccine:

“AdventHealth has been tapped by the state of Florida as one of the first sites to store and administer the new COVID-19 vaccine – or vaccines – as they come online for use. Many details will be worked out in the weeks and months ahead, and we remain committed to being a national leader in coronavirus treatment and research, and a trusted resource for our community.”

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“This is exciting to me that our organization is going to be part of that process, but it also is a lot of work,” AdventHealth Centra Care Medical Director Dr. Timothy Hendrix said. “Right now, teams are mobilizing the logistics behind this.”

AdventHealth officials did not say how soon they expect to receive a shipment of a vaccine or vaccines or offer any additional details about how it will be distributed and to whom.

According to a report by South Florida Sun Sentinel, AdventHealth Orlando will be one of the first five hospitals to receive an approved vaccine for COVID-19. The newspaper said Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Tampa General Hospital and UF Health Jacksonville are also on the list.

“Don’t lose focus that there’s a vaccine that may be out in a few weeks, it’s going to be several weeks to months before we get that out to the general public,” Hendrix added.

The Sun Sentinel says the first vaccines would start arriving in mid-December and another shipment is expected in January. The doses will be stored while health officials wait for final approval to begin using it, according to the newspaper.

Dr. Todd Husty, the medical director in Seminole County, said it appears a vaccine could be just around the corner.

“It looks like it’s about two weeks away,” Husty said.

Recent reports suggest two potential vaccines appear to be pretty promising in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective and that it’s safe and protects older people most at risk of dying from the virus, which was the last data needed to seek emergency use of limited shot supplies as the catastrophic outbreak worsens across the globe.

The company said it is preparing to formally ask U.S. regulators to approve emergency use of the vaccine and will do so within days.

Earlier this week, competitor Moderna Inc. also announced similar effectiveness of its own COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which is made with the same, brand-new technology — using a snippet of the genetic code of the coronavirus to train the body to recognize if the real virus comes along.

Husty said health officials have been working to carve out a plan for wide-scale distribution in Central Florida.

According to Husty, health officials have been debating who should be offered the vaccine first and he said the guidance will come down from a federal level.

“It’s going to be people over the age of 65, first responders, that is law enforcement and EMS and fire departments and it’s going to be healthcare workers too,” Husty said.

He said while that group will be prioritized first, he doesn’t want the public to be discouraged.

“For people that would like to be at the front of the line, but they don’t fit the bill my message is hanging in there, it’s not that much longer,” he said.

The news of potential vaccines offers a glimmer of hope for Floridians as coronavirus cases are rising again statewide and across the U.S.

The Florida Department of Health reported 7,925 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 905,248 cases since March.

AdventHealth Orlando has not provided any additional details about the news but could share new information during its weekly online briefing, which is taking place Thursday morning.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

Stay with News 6 and for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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