Leaders prepare for mass COVID-19 vaccination sites as first doses are distributed

Moderna could soon receive final approval

ORLANDO, Fla. – For the first time, Orlando Health clinicians and non-clinicians at risk received the COVID-19 vaccine, while AdventHealth continued vaccinating frontline health workers on Friday.

Both are utilizing the Pfizer vaccines while awaiting FDA approval of the Moderna vaccine.

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Orlando Health currently utilizes Orlando Regional Medical Center as its distribution center for the vaccine while AdventHealth’s chief scientific officer announced plans for a third distribution site at their Daytona Beach site in addition to sites in Celebration and Orlando.

Dr. Rebecca Gomez serves as the medical director of the observational unit with AdventHealth and received her first vaccine dose earlier this week.

“It’s a huge first step,” she said. “We’ve had enough monitoring of thousands of people who’ve received it and we have a pretty good idea what the risks are and the risks are low.”

This comes as COVID-19 numbers climb across the country. In Volusia County, leaders are preparing for large-scale vaccination clinics once a vaccine is ready for mass distribution.

“This may be in large venues such as the Daytona International Speedway,” Dr. Peter Springer, Volusia County Operational Medical Director, said. “It could be in venues such as the churches or fire stations throughout the county.”

“We have not seen numbers like this since the summer surge of July and August,” Holly Smith with the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County. “The COVID-19 vaccine is crucial to preventing further spread from the virus but we need to take an effective fact-based approach to stop the spread.”

For Gomez, that means continuing precautions this holiday season.

“Continue to be vigilant, continue to wear your mask,” she said. “Keep in mind the virus is still out there and when you get a chance, get your vaccine.”

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