ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The first shipment of 61,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the state Monday with hundreds of thousands more doses promised to hospitals across the state.
After week one of Pfizer vaccinations in Tampa Bay, the Florida Department of Health Pinellas County said 6,700 people got the shot in the county’s 68 nursing homes. At Tampa General Hospital, a spokesperson said about 3,000 frontline staff got the dose so far.
"I think tomorrow is going to be over 300,000, and so that’s going to go to over 170 hospitals throughout the state of Florida," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "We’re also going to get I believe it’s 120,000 somewhere in that range of the second shipment of Pfizer."
Scientists say both vaccines are safe and highly effective. The CDC however is monitoring reports of a severe allergic reaction in the United Kingdom where six people had trouble breathing after getting the Pfizer shot.
Virologist Dr. Michael Teng with University of South Florida Health said that kind of effect is very rare.
"So I think the CDC has recommended that people be, if you have a history of severe hypersensitivity reactions, then you should be monitored for 30 minutes after getting a dose of the vaccine," said Dr. Teng.
State leaders are turning their attention to who’s next in line. Governor DeSantis wants to see seniors get it first over other groups, including essential workers. The CDC recommended vaccinating seniors over 75 and essential workers in the next phase. But states can decide how they want to divide up the doses.
"It’s something that’s very important, and it means a lot to me that we’re putting our parents and grandparents first in all this," said DeSantis.
Researchers said vaccinating them will help lower deaths. But scientists said people younger than seniors are spreading the virus, so including other groups sooner can help stop the spread.
"You want to try to do both. You want to try to protect those people who are more susceptible to the virus, but you also want to make sure that healthcare is there for the people who are younger but still sick and need to have hospitalization to get better," said Dr. Teng.
DeSantis said he will release his plan for the next part of the phase one vaccine rollout Tuesday.