Tampa General Hospital is one of five hospitals in Florida to participate in the state’s pilot program for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.
On Monday, front-line nurse Vanessa Arroyo became the first person in Tampa to be vaccinated with Pfizer’s shot during the trial period.
Shortly thereafter, WMNF interviewed Dr. Jason Wilson is the Medical Director of the Clinical Decision Unit at Tampa General Hospital.
Watch the interview:
On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health director in Pinellas County announced what to expect there. Pinellas and Broward Counties are part of a pilot program for the vaccine.
Dr. Ulyee Choe says he expects to begin vaccinations for nursing home residents and staff.
“We’ve received over 21,000 doses. Pinellas County does have a large vulnerable population, given our age, given the number of long-term care facility beds. And unfortunately, 67% of deaths here, in Pinellas County, have come from these long-term care facilities. We’re hopeful that the vaccine will stem that tide, and make some positive progress in curtailing this pandemic.
“The primary health in Pinellas County is partnering with paramedics, and the Florida National Guard, to administer the vaccines. The initial wave, we are going to be targeting nursing home residents and staff. The Health Department will provide coordination and other support on this particular mission. Keep in mind that participation in this pilot program is voluntary. This is not a mandate for the vaccines. And again, here initially, nursing home residents as well as healthcare workers.
“As you’re all aware, on December 10th, the FDA Advisory Committee recommended that the agency grant emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We do expect that that approval from the FDA will be coming and will be imminent. They did conduct a large phase 3 clinical study and found that the vaccine is both safe and effective. The vaccine is a 2-dose series, given 21 days apart. And it was reported to be 95% effective against COVID-19. In adults older than 65, it was also found to be effective at 94%.
“And given these numbers, I think a lot of the medical community, as well as the scientific community, are very elated at those kind of numbers. In terms of effectiveness. It is one of the most effective vaccines we have for any disease out there. The vaccine does provide a ray of hope, a hope that this is the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic that has affected so many lives.
“It is important to note that the vaccine will not be widely available until weeks or months down the road for the general population. We need to continue our preventive measures until that time, which does include social distancing and masks for the foreseeable future.
“In terms of the full selection criteria, it might be better answered by the state. I can tell you that it’s due to logistical considerations, our access to ultra-cold freezers in the area. And, on top of that, given again, as I mentioned, our vulnerable populations, we have a pretty dense vulnerable population, given our age and the number of long-term care beds.
“Additionally, I can say just from the Health Department’s standpoint, we have experience with number of mass vaccination efforts. In 2018-2019, we had one of the largest hepatitis A outbreaks in the state. And through our efforts, through our vaccination efforts, through our foot teams, we were able to control that and get past that outbreak.”
Below is information provided Monday by Hillsborough County:
Hillsborough Reaching Out to Businesses About Face Coverings Ordinance
COVID-19 coronavirus Update No. 248
Hillsborough County, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2020) – As the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to climb, Hillsborough County is increasing its efforts to work with local businesses to help them comply with the County’s face coverings ordinance.
Hillsborough County Code Enforcement has been responding to individual complaints about businesses and will continue to do so. In addition, beginning today all of the department’s approximately three dozen code enforcement officers will begin visiting businesses each weekday to educate owners and management about their responsibilities under the face coverings ordinance and ways they can keep employees and patrons safe.
Code Enforcement officers will observe compliance, provide educational materials in English and Spanish, and post signage or distribute masks if needed. The pro-active measures are designed to help stop community transmission of COVID-19 coronavirus by emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
The County’s ordinance requires the following of local business owners:
Post signage on all public entrances indicating face coverings must be worn inside unless an exemption if applicable.
Require all employees to wear a face covering unless an exemption is applicable.
Ask patrons not wearing face coverings to do so.
Make regular reminder announcements to patrons and employees that face coverings must be worn (if the business is equipped with a public announcement
Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system.
Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.