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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Pinellas To Administer Coronavirus Vaccine At Long-Term Care Facilities As Part Of Pilot Program

Pinellas County Department of Health building
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Pinellas County is one of two in the state that will take part in a pilot program that will prioritize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use on long-term care residents and health-care personnel.

Facilities in Pinellas and Broward counties will be the first to administer the Pfizer vaccine to its residents and health-care personnel.

Pinellas County is one of two counties in the state that will take part in a pilot program that will prioritize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use on long-term care residents and health-care personnel.

In a news release Friday, the Pinellas County Department of Health announced it will serve in the trial along with Broward County.

The vaccines are expected to arrive next week and will be administered by paramedics, according to the release.

"The arrival of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Pinellas gives us another way to protect the most vulnerable Pinellas residents and health-care workers who have been hard hit by the pandemic as well as those who provide their care," Dr. Ulyee Choe, Pinellas health department director, said in the release. "We are honored to be one of the first two Florida counties to begin the vaccination effort in the state."

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 21,000 doses of the state's initial allotment of the Pfizer vaccine will go to areas with a high concentration of long-term care facilities.

Pinellas County has reported almost 4,800 cases and more than 630 deaths among residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

The distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to the Pinellas and Broward nursing homes follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization on Thursday. It determined that a third phase of tests showed it was 95% effective following two doses.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is a sign of hope as we address this pandemic in Florida," said Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County. "We are still encouraging residents and visitors to take common sense precautions to protect themselves from the spread of the virus. These include frequent hand washing, wearing masks, maintaining six feet of social distancing and staying home if you are feeling sick."

The decision to deliver the vaccine to Pinellas and Broward long-term care facilities comes after an announcement earlier this week that Tampa General Hospital is among five in Florida that could receive Pfizer’s vaccine as early as next week.

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