FDA advisory panel gives Pfizer vaccine first nod in emergency approval process

A panel of independent doctors on an FDA advisory panel endorsed Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, sending a signal to the agency about final approval for emergency use.

With COVID-19 killing record numbers of people every day, enough doctors felt the benefits outweighed the risks. While the majority of the panel recommended approval, not every doctor was on board, ending with a 17-4 vote and one member abstaining.

Pfizer told doctors on the panel that they are working with state and local leaders on handing out the vaccine. Doses will be throughout Florida within the week after FDA’s approval. Pfizer experts also addressed concerns over safety and allergies.

“Amongst the 44,000 subjects, we saw no serious allergic reaction to the vaccine,” said Dr. William Gruber of Pfizer.

But after two people in the United Kingdom suffered serious reactions, the vaccine will come with a warning.

“So the fact sheet and the prescribing information will state that this vaccine should not be administered to individuals with known history of severe allergic reactions to any components of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Marion Gruber of the FDA.

RELATED: DeSantis: Florida to receive nearly 180,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis detailed in a taped video message Thursday that the state is receiving 179,400 doses, and more than half of them will go to hospitals.

"I would expect that this time next week we've got vaccine in the freezer, and we are beginning to actually put vaccine into arms of our healthcare team members,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, an emergency room physician at Tampa General Hospital.

The rest of the vaccines will go to nursing homes, divided up between the Florida Department of Health and pharmacies.

“60,450 doses of vaccine will be sent to CVS and Walgreens for use in long-term care facilities,” said DeSantis.

Those who care for the most vulnerable say they want to keep the elderly safe.

"I think it's absolutely imperative that we have as many people receive the vaccine as possible,” said Bonnie Williamson with Grand Villa Senior Living Centers.

Pfizer scientists said they mainly tested the vaccine in adults, but the emergency use for the shot would be recommended for anyone 16 years old and older.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

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