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The Science, Logistics & PR Campaign Behind The Massive COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

Dr. Regan Schwartz , an emergency room doctor, gets vaccinated against COVID-19 Wednesday, December 16.
Dr. Regan Schwartz , an emergency room doctor, gets vaccinated against COVID-19 Wednesday, December 16.

This week, Central Florida got its first 20,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Doctors and nurses on the front lines fighting the pandemic are also the first to receive the vaccine in Florida. 

WMFE health reporter Abe Aboraya joins Intersection to talk about the science, logistics and the PR campaign behind the massive vaccination effort getting underway.

"The way hospitals are prioritizing this right now is they're looking at anyone who's working in a COVID ICU, anyone who's working at just a general ICU, because even if it's not necessarily entirely COVID-19, patients in the intensive care units, there are going to be patients who are going to be getting on ventilators. And that's a risky procedure when it comes to aerosolizing any of the COVID-19 that could potentially be in something deep down in someone's lungs," says Aboraya.

Vaccines aren't just being limited to direct health care providers.

"They're looking at the entirety of the people who are working in these areas. So if you're an environmental services employee who is working in a COVID ICU, you are eligible to get the vaccine at this point," says Aboraya.

Distributing the Pfizer vaccine is challenging- partly because of how cold it has to be kept in storage. The first hospital systems in Florida to receive this vaccine were picked because of their ability to store and transport it.

And there's a PR element to the vaccination campaign. Aboraya says a Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds some resistance to the idea of getting vaccinated, even among some health care workers. Some 71% of Americans now say they will get a vaccine once it's available.

"All the studies on the sociology of it are really just that, if you see people you trust, and if you see your friends getting it, and people you know, getting it, then that's going to make people more likely to think okay, this is okay for me to get," says Aboraya.