‘This is a big day’: Thousands of AdventHealth employees sign up to receive first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several thousand AdventHealth employees have signed up to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Tuesday, the hospital received 20,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. The hospital system said 9,400 doses are set to start being administered to employees at its Orlando and Celebration locations on Wednesday.

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Hospital officials said for now the vaccine is not mandatory for employees, but is encouraged. Officials said they think by next year the vaccine will be made mandatory once it’s fully approved by the FDA.

“We are convinced that this is a safe and effective vaccine so much so that I would love to take this as soon as they’ll give it to me,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Neil Finkler said.

Officials said in a news conference on Tuesday that the vaccine will be given out with priority to those hospital employees who have the most exposure to COVID-19 patients.

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Officials said some of those doses will be sent out to other local hospitals to help vaccinate their employees.

“This is a big day and what we hope is the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” said Linnette Johnson, chief nursing officer with AdventHealth.

By the end of Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said about 100,000 doses will be in Florida.

That number is expected to quadruple once Moderna’s vaccine is authorized after its meeting with the FDA Thursday.

Orange and Seminole counties are taking part in a pilot program to get COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities.

“We’ve been planning on this for quite some time,” said Seminole County Fire Chief Otto Drozd. “It’s almost here. We have the resources. We have the staffing and we’re coordinating with the Department of Health and local hospitals under the emergency management.”

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There are some concerns regarding the vaccine.

In Orange County, Dr. Raul Pino said the county is having a hard time getting people to consent to being vaccinated.

Nearly 9,000 people in long-term care facilities are expected to be vaccinated within four weeks.

READ: ‘Liquid gold’: COVID-19 vaccines heading to frontline workers beginning Wednesday

See an in-depth report below:

Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.