WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two South Florida hospitals are preparing to receive and store vaccines for COVID-19.
Both Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Memorial Regional in Hollywood confirmed the news Wednesday.
"We expect to receive a limited supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December and are prepared with the proper storage to begin immediate distribution," said Lidia Amoretti, spokeswoman for Jackson Memorial in a statement. "We have purchased equipment, such as ultra-cold freezers, to ensure we have capacity to safely store the vaccine."
A spokesperson with Memorial Regional also said they expect to start receiving the vaccine sometime in December.
The vaccine news comes as Pfizer revealed Wednesday a 94% effectiveness rate in trials for its COVID vaccine.
There is increasing speculation that Pfizer and Moderna, which is also reporting similar success with its vaccine, will soon ask the U.S. government for fast emergency approval.
"It's a remarkable achievement to get a vaccine for a new disease in this length of time," said Dr. David Dodson, an infectious disease specialist in West Palm Beach.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
"The problem is how many doses will these companies have available? How quickly can they produce it?" said Dr. Larry Bush, who is also involved in a vaccine trial for AstraZeneca in Palm Beach County.
According to a plan from the Florida Department of Health, health care personnel, essential workers, people with underlying medical conditions, and those over 65 will be among the first to receive the vaccine, which likely will require two doses.
"We'll have to have people come back weeks after the first dose, which makes vaccinating a large population difficult because you have the extra step," Dodson said.
The other issue will be trying to get the public to trust the vaccine.
"When scientists can review the data and are comfortable with it, then we'll be comfortable recommending it," Dodson said.
Below is the full statement released Wednesday by the Jackson Health System regarding the vaccine:
Jackson Health System is among the hospitals working closely with the Florida Department of Health to receive COVID-19 vaccines. We completed the proper registration to be eligible for participation in the Florida Shots Program. We expect to receive a limited supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December and are prepared with the proper storage to begin immediate distribution. We have purchased equipment, such as ultra-cold freezers, to ensure we have capacity to safely store the vaccine. During the first phase, the vaccine will be available for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care staff and residents, and first responders.