‘This is monumental’: First frontline workers receive COVID-19 vaccine in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis described Monday as “a historic day” as the first patients in Florida received the COVID-19 vaccine and thousands of other doses were being distributed across the state.

DeSantis spoke at Tampa General Hospital along with hospital CEO John Couris and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.

READ: Coronavirus live updates: Hospitals receive first batches of COVID-19 vaccine

“This is a really, really significant milestone in combating the coronavirus pandemic,” DeSantis said.

Tampa General the five hospital systems in Florida, along with AdventHealth in Orlando, set to receive the vaccine. Three out of the five hospitals received 20,000 doses of the shot on Monday. AdventHealth and Jackson Memorial in South Florida are set to receive their allotment on Tuesday.

Distribution of the vaccine began Monday across the U.S. Thousands of vials of long-anticipated vaccine are expected to arrive in all 50 states Monday, as strained health care center staffs scurry to handle record hospitalizations.

“This is the beginning of the end,” Couris said. “This is monumental if you’re sitting in our shoes caring for the patients that need us the most.”

READ: Florida reports a more than 25% increase in COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving

DeSantis said during the news conference that the first vaccine in Florida was given to Vanessa Arroyo, 31, a frontline worker at Tampa General. But UF Health Jacksonville said its CEO received the vaccine about an hour before DeSantis’ news conference.

Moderna is expected to receive FDA approval for its vaccine later this week, which means another 365,000 doses for Florida. Heath care workers and nursing homes residents are set to get it first.

Click here to watch live updates on vaccine distribution on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

WATCH LIVE: Gov. DeSantis gives update on COVID-19 vaccine in Florida

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Posted by WFTV Channel 9 on Monday, December 14, 2020
Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.