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DeSantis Announces Delay In Delivery Of Pfizer Vaccine

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The Florida Channel
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Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking from a restaurant in West Palm Beach, says the first batch of the Moderna vaccine could begin heading to his state as soon as this weekend, allowing wider distribution of the medicine to hospitals across the state.

The state had expected to receive about 450,000 doses produced by Pfizer over the next two weeks, but production issues could prevent them from being delivered, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Florida’s largest hospital system says it is on track to immunize nearly 20,000 health care workers against COVID-19. The news comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced a delay in hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

But DeSantis says the first batch of the Moderna vaccine could begin heading to Florida as soon as this weekend, allowing wider distribution of the medicine to hospitals across the state.

Florida began receiving its share of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, and the state had expected to receive about 450,000 doses produced by Pfizer over the next two weeks.

But production issues could prevent them from being delivered, DeSantis said.

"Those next two week shipments of Pfizer are on hold right now. We don't know if we're going to get any or not. We’re just going to have to wait. Obviously, it would be shipped relatively soon if we got it,” DeSantis said in West Palm Beach. “We don’t know if we’re going to get any or not.”

The top priority is to use early shipments of the vaccines to protect health care workers, who have been on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic

Jackson Health System in Miami and AdventHealth in Orlando received their first batch Tuesday, a day after Tampa General Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville and Memorial Healthcare in Broward County.

Officials at Jackson Health System said they were on pace to vaccinate 19,500 health care workers in seven days to avoid staffing shortages. “It’s a challenge, but I believe we can get that done,” Jackson CEO Carolos Migoya said.

About 180 Florida hospitals across the state will have access to COVID-19 vaccines as of next week, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.

The five hospitals that received delivery of the Pfizer vaccine Monday and Tuesday have reached agreements to share the vaccine with 25 neighboring facilities, usually their competitors. That means 30 Florida hospitals will have access to the Pfizer vaccine this week.

More than another 150 facilities have been registered in a federal system for delivery of the Moderna vaccine, he said. If approved Friday as expected, the Moderna vaccine could be at the 150 hospitals next week.

In a statewide phone call with health department officials, hospitals across the state on Tuesday were clamoring for information about the next shipments of COVID-19 vaccines and whether their facilities would be on the delivery list next week.

Hospitals also pressed state officials about which vaccine they would receive - the Pfizer vaccine, which requires extremely cold storage, the Moderna vaccine candidate, or both.

For now, Moskowitz said the goal is to keep the vaccine supply bifurcated, with hospitals receiving either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine. But he said that also will be dependent on production of the vaccines.

“Until we see the ramping up of production it’s hard to make any definitive statements because we may have to make decisions on the fly depending on what we receive when,” he said.

Overall, Florida received about 180,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, with the five hospitals receiving about 100,000 and CVS and Walgreens pharmacies receiving tens of thousands more. CVS and Walgreens have signed an agreement with the federal government to vaccinate residents and workers at long-term care facilities. The Florida Department of Health has 20,000 doses to supplement the CVS and Walgreens efforts.

To keep track of the vaccines, the state on Tuesday issued an emergency rule that requires all COVID-19 vaccine providers to report information to the state, including information about the race and ethnicity of people being vaccinated and the names of the facilities where they were vaccinated.

The emergency rule requires that the information be reported to the state within 24 hours, but Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees said officials would prefer the information to be reported in real time as part of tracking efforts.

Information from Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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