coronavirus florida

Leon Medical Centers Quickly Moves Vaccines Into Arms

When more than 9,000 doses arrived Monday night, the Medicaid Advantage system quickly moved to begin vaccinations by Tuesday morning.

NBC Universal, Inc.

No one had to twist Juan Hernandez’ arm to get a vaccine.

Just inject it.

"This is probably one of the happiest days of my life," he said after getting his shot at Leon Medical Centers' Flagler Avenue location.

"Last night I couldn't sleep when they called me to tell me" he could be vaccinated Tuesday, he said.

At 68, with diabetes, Hernandez is doubly at risk -- and he knows it, saying, "If I would have gotten COVID I knew I wasn't going to make it."

Hernandez is a high-risk patient among Leon's more than 43,000 clients, so he was among the first to be vaccinated, getting the call before the Pfizer vaccine doses that arrived Monday night even defrosted.

It's part of Leon's effort to ultimately vaccinate 2,000 people a day at its seven centers. They will start with staff, front-line workers and the high-risk patients, who they will contact to schedule vaccinations.

Soon, they hope to make appointments for other clients.

"We’re going to be able to try to do this as quickly as possible to be able to protect all our patients and our staff as best we can," said Dr. Rafael Mas, Leon's chief medical officer.

The pressure is on to get doses into arms.

Nationwide, of 17 million doses distributed, 4.8 million -- 28% -- have been administered, according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention website updated Tuesday.

In Florida it's even worse: 23% of 1.15 million doses distributed to the state, according to the CDC.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is threatening to reduce vaccine allocations to health facilities that do not vaccinate as much as the state believes they should.

South Florida hospital executives said they are not among the hospitals DeSantis is threatening.

Contact Us