First round of Florida healthcare workers gets second vaccine dose

Pediatrician Julie Johnson is one of the few and proud 1,997 Floridians to be considered immune to COVID-19 thanks to receiving a second dose of vaccine. Few and proud, but not necessarily care-free.

"I don't think there is much of a mental change," Dr. Johnson said. "When I was at work today, I still practiced the same exact precautions, I was still double-masked, I was still being very very careful."

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

Doctors like Allison Messina at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg say the system has been generally smooth, because hospitals have allowed employees to make their second-dose appointments almost immediately after getting their first.

That's how it's intended to work for the public, as well.

"I think the second dose scheduling should be easier because once the first dose is given, they have you in that queue," said Dr. Messina.

The second dose takes efficacy from about 50% to about 95%. And the good news is that there is no shortage of doses, with only 290,000 given statewide of about 1.15 million received.

But people like Joe Ledgerwood of Lutz, who is 66 and has a pre-existing condition, are unsure of the process, given how hard it was for him to get an appointment for the first shot.

"With all the trouble they have had for the various aspects of the shots, I just wonder if it is going to be as smooth as I thought it would be," Ledgerwood said.

He hopes to make his second appointment the moment he gets the first dose, which is scheduled for Saturday at University Mall.

Hillsborough County says that is the plan.

"This is much more than just getting a shot to me," said Ledgerwood. "This could be a matter of getting life or death."

FOX 13 spoke to the Pinellas County Health Department, which said around 1,000 people at assisted living facilities got second doses Monday. Those numbers have not yet filtered into the statewide count, so we should start seeing that number of 1,997 growing substantially.

According to the FDA, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is to be given 21 days between the first and second dose. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 28 days between the first and second dose. 

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 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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