With first vaccine shipments on hold, Florida officials look toward Moderna approval

The second coronavirus vaccine is on its way toward approval from the Food and Drug Administration, offering more hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. A vaccine advisory panel recommended approving Moderna’s vaccine Thursdsay.

The FDA is expected to make the final call about emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine as early as Friday. Only a week earlier, the same panel recommended approval of Pfizer’s vaccine and shots have been going into arms all week.

"I did not think that an EUA (emergency use authorization) was the way to go. But since the train has left the station, I appreciate that Moderna has given us a very transparent and thorough study," said Dr. A. Fuller, an advisory committee member for the FDA.

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Once the agency gives approval, Governor Ron DeSantis said 367,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine will head to Florida. Virologist Dr. Michael Teng, with University of South Florida Health, said adding another vaccine helps widen coverage for those who need it.

"It’s really great that we have two vaccines, and this was really the strategy the whole time, to get as many vaccines into the space as possible so we have options," said Dr. Teng.

The state aims to cover hospitals and nursing homes that did not get the first Pfizer shipment.

READ: Some states told they won't receive expected number of doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Governor DeSantis said Wednesday the next two shipments of Pfizer vaccines totaling about 450,000 doses were on hold because of production issues. But Pfizer’s CEO tweeted Thursday that no vaccines are on hold or delayed, and there are no production issues.

Pfizer said in a statement they’ve shipped all doses required and that millions of additional vaccines are in its warehouse waiting on further shipping instructions from the federal government.

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Vaccine researchers say it’s important for both vaccines to arrive in time.

"Pfizer’s is a three week interval between doses, and Moderna is a four week interval between doses. But what that means is that when you start vaccinating on day 0, you have to be able to have that second dose," said Dr. Teng.

Both vaccines are two round doses, and the state is making sure people get their second shot on time.

Vaccine experts say the Moderna dose will be a little easier to store because it doesn’t need the ultra-cold storage that the Pfizer shot requires.