Tampa Bay hospitals looking for direction as they receive new COVID-19 vaccine shipments

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s new confusion over vaccine distribution in Florida. Tampa Bay area hospitals are receiving more doses, but they are looking for clear directions on what to do with them, including how to handle second doses.

Moffitt Cancer Center received a second batch of the vaccine on Thursday. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bob Keenan said they planned to ask state officials for guidance.

“I think that’s an open question and one that we will have for the surgeon general and the secretary of ACA. Clearly, at a minimum, we would reserve those doses so that we could make sure that everyone who got a first dose gets a second one,” Dr. Keenan said. “But if there’s a feeling that supply is going to keep coming then, in my opinion, it would be good to be starting to use some of that next allotment even for people who need it for the first time. We are very strongly wanting to vaccinate as many patients as we possibly can.”

Dr. Keenan said officials switching gears to release as much vaccine as possible is cause for new concerns.

“That’s great you’re releasing it all, but are we confident the manufacturers are going to be able to re-supply?” Keenan asked.

Gov. Ron DeSantis released a statement Thursday regarding booster shots for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“While there is talk at the federal level regarding how to distribute vaccine doses and whether booster shots should be ‘held back,’ Florida is committed to the two-dose regimen for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” the statement read. “One dose seems to provide some protection, but the 95 percent efficiency has only been shown to be attained by taking the booster shot. This means that while the manner of distribution may change, the necessity of the booster shot will not. Florida wants all seniors to receive booster shots at the appropriate time.” 

The governor did not release any specific information about how the state or facilities will handle providing the second dose. 8 On Your Side also reached out to the office of the Florida Attorney General but have not heard back.

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