VENICE — The first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is already being administered in Florida.

Health care workers started getting the shots Monday, with immunizations in long-term-care facilities expected to begin next week when the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care program launches.

And the approval of Moderna’s vaccine is expected later this week. A Food and Drug Administration report on the vaccine was as favorable as the one for the Pfizer vaccine approved last week, showing 94% efficacy.

Moderna’s vaccine also appears to provide enhanced protection against severe infections and approval is only being sought for people 18 and up.

Pfizer sought emergency use authorization that included 16- and 17-year-olds, which was a sticking point for some members of the panel tasked with making a recommendation.

The state should also know around the end of the week how many more doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected and where they will be going.

In addition, 300,000-400,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be coming soon, Jared Moskowitz, director of the Division of Emergency Management, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday.

That should enable distribution to about 150 hospitals, he said.

The state has 315 hospitals, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

Julie Beatty, director of marketing for Venice Regional Bayfront Health, said it’s waiting for direction from the state.

“We have let the state know our capabilities and are awaiting their direction,” she said via email. “We are hopeful to hear soon regarding our request for vaccines for our employees.”

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is in the same position.

“We are hoping within the next week or two, but so far timing and quantity is still not certain,” Public Information Officer Kim Savage said in an email.

The plan for the next shipments is the same as the one for the shipment just received: Vaccinate front-line health care workers and long-term-care facility residents and staff.

Next in line would be people over age 65 with underlying health conditions, then younger people with health issues and, finally, the public in general, according to the state’s plan.

By the numbers

Florida reported another 9,439 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, with 83 more deaths. The positivity rate was 9.64%, the highest in more than a month.

Sarasota County added 116 cases and four deaths.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital had 78 COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, up from 68 on Monday. Nine were in the ICU.

Statewide, 5,084 people were hospitalized with the illness and ICU availability was 18.69%. It was 30% in Sarasota County with Sarasota Memorial at 72 beds, not the 62 in the state figures.

The Sarasota County School District reported that 21 staff and 59 students were in isolation Tuesday after testing positive, while 41 staff and 556 students were in quarantine.

In the prior 48 hours 25 people were told to isolate and 140 were directed to quarantine.


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