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Florida to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in phases

“We haven't done this for something like COVID[-19] ever really in the modern history of our country," UF Health Infection Prevention Director Chad Neilsen said.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A new vaccine means new challenges for providers – challenges that UF Health and other local hospitals have already been working to find solutions for.

“We haven't done this for something like COVID[-19] ever really in the modern history of our country," UF Health Infection Prevention Director Chad Neilsen said.

It’s not just the unique need for the vaccine to be mass-distributed, the new Pfizer and BioNTech inoculation also needs to be at super-cold temperatures, which could make it difficult not only to move but to store in mass quantities.

“If we end up with 10,000 doses of this – that might only take up a shelf in a freezer, but do we have the freezer space for that?" Neilsen explained. "Do we need to bring in [freezer] trucks? Do we need special facilities?”

He added that ensuring there are enough providers staffed in certain areas to administer the vaccine is another obstacle Florida will have to sort out.

“Macclenny, for instance, does not a lot of medical resources. So, the distribution of supplies and getting to those folks is going to be paramount to ensure that nobody's left behind," Neilsen said.

So, then what happens when it gets to the First Coast? 

Florida's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan (attached below) breaks it down.

Neilsen explained the COVID-19 vaccine distribution will be done in phases – similarly to the tests. First, shots will only be available at hospitals and labs, then eventually at mass vaccination clinics when it’s more readily available and pharmacies/doctor's offices when the demand declines.

There is also a first priority group, which includes closed pods of: 1, health care workers, 2, long-term care staff and residents, and 3, first responders.

The state has already added up the number of supplies it will need to vaccinate these groups – for example, 1,345,417 health care workers will have to get the shot before the general population will have the option.

If you want to learn more about what distribution will look like, Florida’s complete COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is below: