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Palm Beach County to receive 20,000 doses of Moderna COVID vaccine

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AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Left out of the Pfizer vaccine allotment, Palm Beach County will now receive 20,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna which requires only one dose, officials announced on Tuesday.

Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County, said the county is due to receive a large shipment of a vaccine produced by Moderna which is still waiting on FDA approval. However, she didn’t give a specific timeline for when that shipment will get here.

“I’m ready to receive that vaccine and I’m ready to roll out with it,” Alonso told county commissioners.

An advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Thursday to decide whether to recommend the Moderna vaccine for an emergency use authorization.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects full FDA approval by Friday, with the initial shipments of the Moderna vaccine arriving in Florida between Sunday and Tuesday of next week.

The very first shipments of Pfizer’s double dose vaccine began arriving in South Florida on Monday. Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami-Dade County and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County are among five hospital systems in Florida that are receiving an initial allotment of the vaccine which must be stored at -70 degrees. Moderna’s vaccine requires just one jab and can be kept within normal freezing temperatures.

Just like the Pfizer vaccine, Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County will distribute the 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to high-risk, high-contact frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities first.

After frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities, the Moderna vaccine will then be distributed to first responders like law enforcement officers and firefighters, as well as “additional priority groups.” However, it’s unclear who will be in those priority groups.

“The general population, we’ve been saying since the beginning, will probably not start being vaccinated like in your doctor’s office and so forth until around April, or maybe even longer,” Alonso said.

The health director warned the public that the vaccine is not a “magic bullet,” and you could still get a milder form of COVID-19 even after getting vaccinated.

She adds, “This is gonna take time, at least a year between starting a vaccination and achieving herd immunity.”