MIRAMAR, FLA. (WSVN) - Front-line workers in Broward County are speaking out moments after they received some of the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Florida.
The moment many in South Florida had been waiting for came Monday morning, when 10 doctors and nurses who work for Memorial Healthcare System stepped up and were given the vaccine.
“It’s a wonderful day in the history of mankind,” said Memorial Healthcare System Dr. Dorinda Sergovia.
“It’s our duty and obligation to set the example for the rest of our community,” said Dr. Ari Sarelli. “The best way to beat this virus is not to get it in the first place.”
“We received 19,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that’s going to be administered, as said, to our frontline healthcare workers,” said Thomas Macaluso.
7News cameras captured some of the vaccinations in Miramar.
Latanya Forbes, a registered nurse, said her body reacted well to the dose.
“It was actually better than when I got the flu shot. No pain, no reaction,” she said. “I didn’t really feel it at all, so, really good.”
“You feel a little bit of anxiety initially, but the staff here is excellent,” said Dr. Alberto Augsten, another vaccine recipient, “and once you kind of get settled, it’s just like a normal injection.”
The vaccine arrived frozen and must be stored at temperatures below -73 degrees Celsius.
Hospital administrators said the primary focus will be getting the vaccine to those who need it most.
“Storage, preparation and distributions, our goal will be 120 patients per hour,” said Sergovia.
The last nine to 10 months have been brutal for healthcare workers, hospital officials said, and they are ready for this crisis to be over.
“They’re tired. Most of them are working fourth or fifth shifts, 12-hour shifts, in the week,” said Dr. Maggie Hansen with Memorial Healthcare. “They’re stressed at work, they’re going home, and there’s no time to rally before it’s time to do it all over again, and yet they do.”
Memorial Healthcare officials said 500 employees are scheduled to receive their first dose on Tuesday, and they’re hoping this step marks the beginning of the end of this pandemic.
Doctors said this is an important step toward getting back to normal.
“This vaccine and the other vaccines that come down the pipeline are really going to be the key tool to ending this pandemic, and we’re all looking forward to that,” Macaluso said.
“It’s really been a big struggle. It’s a struggle for the community. It’s a struggle for our patients. It’s a struggle for the staff,” said Augsten, “and this is an opportunity, a first opportunity to say, ‘We have an ability to really combat this.'”
“This just gives you a little extra layer of confidence that we’ll make it through this fight,” said Forbes.
Memorial Healthcare officials said they’re aiming to vaccinate 7,000 employees, roughly half their staff, within the next several weeks.
Everyone who received the first dose will have to come in for a second dose in between 19 and 23 days.
Jackson Memorial Hospital is set to receive its shipment of the vaccine on Tuesday.
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