Local healthcare systems prepare to vaccinate high-risk healthcare workers next week

Gov. Ron DeSantis: 97,500 doses will go to hospitals in Florida

Onyx Magazine, Orlando Health and communities leaders launched a campaign on June 1, 2020 to encourage everyone to wear a mask and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Onyx Magazine, Orlando Health and communities leaders launched a campaign on June 1, 2020 to encourage everyone to wear a mask and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (WKMG 2020)

ORLANDO, Fla. – With Federal Drug Administration approval of a COVID-19 vaccine imminent local hospitals are preparing to vaccine their staff as well as the community as soon as they have the shots in hand.

Orlando Health provided a plan to its team members this week including details of how the healthcare chain will conduct vaccination of its clinicians and non-clinicians who are at risk of COVID-19 exposure.

The free and voluntary vaccinations for those medical staff identified will begin Dec. 18 at Orlando Health Regional Medical Center.

The FDA announced plans to grant the emergency approval for Pfzier vaccine after a panel voted to approve the shots. Florida will receive more than 179,000 doses of the vaccine.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis said 97,500 doses would go to hospitals in Florida for their most at-risk workers.

Orlando Health plans to make the vaccine available to its entire staff once the Moderna or other vaccines are also approved

“We are pleased to provide this initial round of vaccinations to individuals who face the highest risk of exposure to the virus,” Orlando Health chief medical officer Dr. George Ralls said. “In addition to the Pfizer product, we expect the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be approved within weeks, which – based on supply – should allow us to expand the vaccination program, eventually making the vaccine available to our entire workforce.”

These high-risk groups are defined by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration “as clinical and non-clinical staff with direct patient contact with increased risk of COVID-19 exposure,” including staff who work in ICUs, COVID-19 care units, emergency departments and personnel who handle infectious materials, according to Orlando Health.

“As additional supply of vaccine becomes available, Orlando Health will move quickly to establish additional vaccination sites across our system,” Ralls said. “Because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains unclear, specific dates for opening of additional sites has not yet been determined.”

Orlando Health long-term care facilities are also among the high priority groups. including Health Central Park and Orlando Health South Lake Hospital SkyTop View Rehabilitation Center. DeSantis said 60,450 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would go to pharmacies CVS and Walgreens to administer in long-term care facilities under state contracts. The CDC has also partnered with the pharmacies nationwide to administer the vaccine to these populations.

OMNI Healthcare in Brevard County has been implementing testing throughout the pandemic and has already begun preparing to inoculate healthcare workers and high-risk individuals when the vaccine become available.

“As Florida gears up to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine OMNI is poised to administer the vaccine to over 2,000 people daily,” the physician group said in a statement.

OMNI said the first vaccines will be for those deemed high risk it will also be ready to administer the vaccine to the general public when more become available.

“While healthcare workers and those at risk are slated to be the first to receive it, those in the general population who choose to receive the vaccine may be next in line. OMNI Healthcare is currently setting up convenient locations throughout Brevard County to accommodate its residents,” according to OMNI Healthcare. “To sign up and be placed on a list to receive notifications regarding the vaccine, call OMNI’s COVID-19 Center at (321) 802-5515.”

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