TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As hospitals across the country wait for the coronavirus vaccine to be released, local hospitals are looking ahead to make sure they're meeting communities' needs in the Big Bend area.
While there's not a firm date yet, a spokesperson for Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare says they're expecting vaccines to arrive here just days after emergency use authorization is granted nationwide.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccines the week of December 14. Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrea Friall tells ABC 27 in a statement,
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 vaccines the week of December 14. Once a vaccine is approved, the plan to distribute the vaccine will be announced, as well as more information about allocations for healthcare providers and long term care residents. Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) expects to receive an allocation as soon as a few days after the EUA and has a tiered distribution plan based on the amount of vaccines received, with priority going to high-risk areas.
TMH established a working group who reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for vaccine distribution and developed a plan to administer the vaccine and report immunization records to Florida SHOTS. Our plan is already in place and will be adjusted once vaccine allocation amounts and delivery timelines are available. TMH colleagues will be encouraged, but not required, to receive the vaccine.
These COVID-19 vaccines, as with all vaccines, are not 100% effective, but are an important part of managing the pandemic. TMH will still require masks, social distancing and proper hand hygiene in our facilities.
According to the Department of Health, health care workers are first to get the vaccine, then essential workers. People with medical conditions that place them at high-risk for COVID-19 complications are third, followed by anyone 65 and older.
While this is promising news for some, Eugene Harris, who is almost 70, says instead of getting the vaccine, he'll continue to take precautions, exercise, and eat right.
"I follow the sciences, but I'm just not into the vaccines, taking shots, and medications. I've never had to in my life," said Harris.
Tallahassee resident Stefan Schmitt says he wants to be vaccinated as soon as possible. He says he even convinced his 80-year-old mother to plan for a vaccine.
"I said, 'Mom, you can either experiment with getting COVID or experiment with the vaccine that is generally considered safe.' Believe it or not, that did convince her," said Schmitt.
As for where you can find the vaccine, the department of health says it will likely use a state-run site, similar to testing sites like Bragg. Vaccine sites will also go to homeless shelters, assisted living facilities, and community-based clinics.