Sarasota Memorial Hospital administers first round of vaccines to people over weekend

For the first time Saturday, Sarasota Memorial Hospital began vaccinations for people over 65. They plan to inoculate as many as 3,000 residents Saturday and Sunday.

It's the first shot in the arm for 1,500 Sarasota residents and one they've been waiting for weeks.

"I was emotional. We've been living in our family bubble since the end of March. This is just the first positive step forward for us," Sarasota resident Aidan Farrell said.

Saturday, Sarasota Memorial Hospital welcomed people 65 and older to get their first vaccine shots.

"It is so rewarding. When our community members have had such a tough time getting access to vaccine. We are delighted that we get to share our allocation of vaccinate our community," Sarasota Memorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer Lorrie Liang said.

The hospital is using its own supply of the Moderna vaccine to inoculate at least 3,000 Sarasota residents Saturday and Sunday. It's a process that takes the work of more than 100 volunteers as well as several dozen hospital nurses, clinicians and support staff.

In order to be one of the 3,000 people getting the shot, you had to sign up through the Florida Department of Health of Sarasota.

"We're thrilled to be just a small part of this and excited to see vaccines get out into the community as quickly as possible," Florida Department of Health of Sarasota Health Officer Chuck Henry said.


COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed throughout the state of Florida, individual counties are beginning to release information about how and to whom the two-dose vaccine will be distributed.

Right now, hospital staff and health department officials say supply of the vaccine remains the biggest issue and it's why public health experts are urging people to be patient.

So far in Florida, about 470,000 people have a received the first dose of the vaccine and about 35,000 people have received the second dose.

"We're hoping that we're saving lives and that those individuals are not going to need to be admitted for the illness that comes with COVID," Liang said.