December 31, 2020 (Tallahassee, FL) - Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida's hospitals and their health care staff have been on the frontlines, delivering intensive care to the most severely ill, collaborating with their community partners, and performing widespread testing. With the rollout of vaccines, hospitals again are front and center - quickly vaccinating their own staff and community-based health care workers, in accordance with national and state guidelines.
"Our hospitals are working to support a vaccination process that efficiently, effectively, and urgently deploys vaccines through collaboration and coordinated efforts in their communities with county health officials and other local health care organizations based on the limited number of vaccines received," said Mary Mayhew, president and CEO, Florida Hospital Association.
"The COVID-19 vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. Amid this rapidly changing environment, hospitals are proud partners in the state's work to get as many Floridians vaccinated safely and quickly. But, we urge patience as demand for the vaccine far exceeds supply," added Mayhew.
To date, Florida hospitals have received approximately 533,000 doses -- 55 percent of the state's shipment. This includes 97,500 doses to support the required second vaccination of their hospital staff and other community health care workers who received their first vaccination. The majority of vaccine doses were received between December 22 and December 29.
Counting hospital staff, nursing home and assisted living facility staff, and their residents, there are more than 700,000 individuals to be vaccinated - all of whom require two shots. In addition, within the current hospital vaccine allotment, the state has directed hospitals to prioritize community healthcare workers who have a risk of exposure to COVID-19.
To accommodate the priority individuals with the limited vaccine allocations, hospitals have vaccinated their staff within their facilities, established community-based vaccination sites that allow for physical distancing, created new processes for scheduling and tracking, and launched education and outreach campaigns -- all in a matter of days. This activity comes at a time when hospitalizations are increasing and hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages.
With more vaccine doses on the way, the state is also prioritizing vaccination of the senior population. Approximately 4.5 million Floridians are over age 65.
"Safely vaccinating 4.5 million people with two doses, given the limited vaccine allocations from the federal government will take many, many months and require the sustained commitment and coordination of local governments, community-based health care providers, pharmacies, first responders, and other local and regional groups," said Mayhew.