The Pfizer Five
UF Health Jacksonville first to administer COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.
After many long months into the world’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States’ first vaccine was released in late 2020, marking a huge milestone in the fight against the virus. On Dec. 14, UF Health Jacksonville administered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a group of 10 front-line health care workers. The hospital was one of the “Pfizer Five,” a handful of sites in Florida selected to receive the initial distribution.
Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, MHSA, a board-certified emergency room physician, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, is thought to be the first in the state to be vaccinated. He was followed by additional physicians, nurses, a pharmacist and other staff who work in areas of the hospital that most frequently care for patients with COVID-19.
“This moment is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a true testament to the power of science and to the many efforts over these past several months,” Haley said in a news release. “I’d like to extend my deep appreciation on behalf of all of our front-line caregivers, here and around the world, for their resilience and heroism. This is an important step in our battle to end this pandemic.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine, which received Emergency Use Authorization one week after Pfizer, requires two doses 28 days apart. Both vaccines have been proven highly effective in preventing COVID-19 — Pfizer at 95% and Moderna at 94.1%. As of late January, researchers were testing more than 65 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, including single-dose vaccines.
“The fact that we have a vaccine to administer less than a year after the start of the pandemic is astonishing, but reassuring,” said Dr. David R. Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “That’s because shortcuts were never taken when it comes to the science. When we say we trust the vaccine, what we mean is we are trusting the data behind the vaccine. And we trust that it will help save countless lives. It’s not enough to diagnose and treat COVID-19. We must prevent it as well.”