Lee Health ready, waiting for COVID-19 vaccine

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Vaccine doses being packaged for shipment. Credit: WINK News

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is being shipped out across the U.S., but when will you be able to get it in Lee County?

Lee Health says it will be ready to roll out the vaccine as soon as it receives the doses, and  their current expectation is within the next couple of weeks.

The Pfizer vaccine requires special ultra-cold freezers, which have already been prepared. Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health, says right now he is waiting to hear from the state on vaccine protocols.

“Especially through this holiday season, the virus is still out there, it’s going to take a while before we can get everyone vaccinated,” Antonucci said. “So, please, continue to social distance, wear a mask and handwash, especially if you’re going to be at family gatherings over the holidays.”

It seems like the vaccine is headed to bigger cities first, and then we could see it shortly after. Antonucci says the rollout has been a planning-intensive process.

“The CDC is making recommendations as to who should be getting the vaccine in a staggered fashion,” Antonucci said. “Obviously we want to give the vaccine to the most vulnerable and the highest risk, because it will not be universally available to the entire population. So we will follow those guidelines and administer the vaccine according to the guidelines that the CDC and, ultimately, the state Department of Health and Surgeon General are going to determine.”

He says he understands how long people have been waiting for this, but that right now the key word is “patience.” Lee Health also says it has been working with other hospitals across the state to make this process smoother.

Antonucci expects the Moderna vaccine to be made available shortly after Pfizer’s. Their vaccine does not require the deep freeze, so it will be easier to store. Our local hospitals don’t know exactly when they’ll be able to administer the vaccine, so if you see something online promising to tell you when you’ll be eligible, it’s probably not legitimate. WINK News will keep you updated on vaccine eligibility.

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