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Frontline health care workers in Palm Beach County receive COVID-19 vaccine

Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Bethesda Hospital employees receive vaccine on Monday
Posted at 6:41 AM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 16:13:54-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Another round of COVID-19 vaccines were administered at various hospitals in Palm Beach County on Monday.

Employees and physicians at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Bethesda Hospital East, and Bethesda Hospital West received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

"It is one of the most important things you can do right now for yourself and your community," said Dr. Samer Fahmy, the chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. "We are confident in the science behind it. The testing that's gone on is extensive and it seems like it's safe and effective."

Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County, said earlier this month that 18,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be distributed at area hospitals over the next four weeks.

"We can keep that for four weeks. We'll be working those four weeks to roll this out to fire rescue, EMS, paramedics, our county health department frontline and health care workers. We will be rolling that out," Alonso said. "Obviously, everyone cannot get the vaccine at the same time, so please be patient."

Alonso said there’s a specific distribution plan in place.

"Palm Beach County is specifically being given the Moderna vaccine. It's much easier to handle, and it also has a very good efficacy, so we are very happy to have the Moderna. They are going to try to keep us with that same brand so that it doesn’t become confusing to people," Alonso said.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people in the general public who are 65 and older after a hospital finishes vaccinating all frontline doctors, nurses, and health care workers.

In addition, the governor said county health departments are now receiving shipments of the vaccine and will begin administering it to people 65 and older as early as Monday.

"We want to work to get this out to our senior population," DeSantis said. "We think that's very, very important for reducing mortality, reducing the number of people who need to be hospitalized."

Hundreds of thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been arriving in Florida over the last two weeks, and DeSantis said he expects hundreds of thousands more doses to continue arriving every week for the "foreseeable future."

"This is one of those steps that we can take to help our communities go back to normal and a step towards normalcy, but that doesn't mean that you get the vaccine and let you let your guard down," Dr. Fahmy said.