‘We see a light at the end of the tunnel’: UF doctor who lost father to COVID-19 hopeful about vaccine arrival


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Vincent Narcisi was a father, grandfather, Korean War and small business owner in St. Pete Beach.

The 92-year-old passed away in May after contracting the coronavirus during the outbreak at the rehabilitation facility at Freedom Square of Seminole.

“I know there’s lot of other families who have lost loved ones as well and I hope they’re feeling as good today as I am,” Narcisi’s son Dr. Todd Brusko told 8 On Your Side.

Seven months after losing his dad, Dr. Brusko said the historic arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday in Florida represents hope during the pandemic.

“When my turn in line comes up, I’ll be incredibly enthusiastic to get it,” he said.

Dr. Brusko is an immunologist and University of Florida Health professor. He said he understands why the state selected Pinellas as one of the first two counties for vaccine distribution to long term care facilities.

“Health care workers and individuals that are in these long term care facilities absolutely should be at the forefront of who is getting these vaccines and Pinellas has a high density of these patients,” Dr. Brusko said, “so it makes a lot of sense from a public health perspective to roll it out there.”

Two out of three of the more than 950 coronavirus deaths in Pinellas County are tied to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

8 On Your Side checked in with the Pinellas County Health Department on Monday about which of the 240 facilities will be first for vaccine distribution, but a spokesperson said they are still figuring out which will be first to receive doses from the initial shipment.

At Tampa General Hospital Monday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies will soon receive 60,000 vaccine doses allocated for long term care facilities.

It is important to remember the Pfizer version requires two shots of the vaccine for maximum effectiveness.

“The state is going to receive (Tuesday) about 20 thousand and we are gonna supplement the long-term care mission,” Gov. DeSantis said. “We have expeditionary capability and so we are gonna be working hard to serve those most vulnerable.”

With the state still months away from much of its vulnerable population being vaccinated, Dr. Brusko said Floridians should not let their guard down by still wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large crowds.

“If anything now is the time to double down because we see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

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