Sunday marked the beginning of a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as workers at Pfizer's vaccine production plant in Michigan packed boxes full of COVID-19 vaccine doses, preparing to ship them to hospitals across the country. 1,400 miles away, doctors and nurses in South Florida hospitals are eagerly awaiting for their arrival.
"We’re excited, and that’s really the hope, that we’re finally at least optimistic that there’s light at the end of this tunnel," Dr. Peter Paige, Jackson Memorial Hosptial's top doctor and Chief Medical Officer for Miami Dade County, said.
For over nine months, healthcare workers in South Florida hospitals have put their lives on the line nearly every day in order to fight the pandemic. Now, with the arrival of the vaccines, some workers say they are feeling more optimistic.
Trucks filled with nearly 19,500 doses will be arriving to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, as well as Hollywood's Memorial Regional Hospital, as early as Monday.
"This is a testament to a tremendous amount of not just collaboration amongst our top medical health and scientific experts, but also where we are in terms of technology - allowing us to make these leaps and bounds," Dr. Bindu Mayi, an infectious disease expert at Nova Southeastern University, said.
According to Broward County's Department of Health, some of the very first shots of the vaccine may be given at local nursing homes, with the help of Florida's National Guard.
Still, with all the optimism going around, health experts are giving the public a reality check - beating the pandemic is still a long way off.
Even though a vaccine has been created and approved, those who receive it still will have to deal with wearing protective gear as cases continue to rise across the country.
In Florida, the state's health department reported another 8,900 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 1,125,931.