coronavirus vaccine

‘Hope in a Bottle': COVID-19 Vaccine Making Its Way to South Florida's Critical Health Care Workers

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The Pfizer vaccine is moving quickly through South Florida as the initial shipments are being shared with medical facilities.

On Wednesday morning, Baptist Health received their first shipment and the vaccine shots were being given to frontline healthcare workers in Kendall.

South Miami Hospital emergency room doctor Yvonne Johnson was one of those who received the vaccine.

"The vaccine itself is painless. It doesn’t hurt at all and we are very excited to start the beginning of the end,” Dr. Johnson, who is South Miami’s Chief Medical Officer, said.

Johnson came to get her shot as part of the first wave of Baptist Health frontline medical employees to get the vaccine injection.

"We see everyday the patients who come in who are sick. We see everyday unfortunately there are some people who succumb and pass away from Covid, or who have a very extended stays and have to be on ventilators," Johnson said. "So we know the downside."

It was very early Wednesday when the Baptist Health System put its plan in place to turn a pipe dream in March into reality. The vials were sent to them from Jackson Memorial, which did the initial intake of the vaccine for Miami-Dade County.

The top pharmacist for Baptist said they set up an operation that can vaccinate 500 people each day.

"It is a very historic moment especially for a pharmacist like myself and for our physicians and nurse vaccinators who are helping us with that," Baptist's Chief Pharmacy Officer Madeline Camejo said.

Vera Leip, a resident of John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 16, 2020.

Vaccinators like Teresa Henry said the day was bringing a bright smile hidden by her mask. In a week, they hope to give the 3500 designated doctors, nurses, and other employees who are most likely to contract covid their shots.

"I just want to get back to normalcy at some point and I miss seeing my family and I think with this it’s hope in a bottle," Camejo said.

"So the fact that we now have the vaccine that can protect our population and starting with the health care workers that have been dealing with this and exposing themselves for the last 10 months is just extraordinary," Johnson said.

Since Monday, South Florida has seen the vaccine arrive and operations like the one at Baptist Health start operating like clockwork with online reservations, security checks, and workers coming out feeling a sense of protection.

On Thursday there could be more good news as the FDA will take a look at Moderna’s vaccine.

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