TAMPA, Fla. — A shot of hope. Frontline workers at AdventHealth Tampa began receiving their first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning.
AdventHealth Tampa planned to vaccinate around 100 frontline workers from across their entire West Florida division, which includes nearly a dozen hospitals.
Today they were testing their vaccination system, and over the course of the next few days, they plan to vaccinate around 3,000 frontline workers.
It was a sigh of relief for many frontline workers.
“It’s hard being a healthcare worker, being the biggest risk to your family,” said Stephen Quinones, an ER nurse for AdentHealth.
For Quinones, he feels the urgency of getting the vaccination.
“We put ourselves on the frontline every day to help somebody, and go in a room and try to save someone’s life that’s dying of COVID. So for me to do this and give society around me, community around me, ‘hey, he got it, he’s fine, no long term effects so far, I’ll be their advocate,” said Quinones.
But he also feels the angst.
“I think a lot of people in this room are scared of the vaccine. It’s taken a leap of faith, it’s trying to get back to a sense of normalcy… and now, Pfizer group is giving us an opportunity for it to potentially be over,” said Quinones.
History in action as the largest vaccination effort in United States history continues, right here in Tampa Bay.
“It was a huge box, with a tiny little package, but just to think about how precious that is, it’s really gold,” said Robin McGuinness, Senior Executive Officer for the AdventHealth West Florida Division
Members of the AdventHealth executive team say they are confident in the safety and the efficacy of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“The development of this vaccine hasn’t been shortened. We haven’t provided less research, less examination of this vaccine than any other vaccine, the acceleration is really, actually, this is new technology,” said Dr. Doug Ross, Chief Medical Officer for AdventHealth Tampa.
They also feel confident in vaccinating around 3,000 of their frontline workers over the course of the next few days.
“Nurses, respiratory therapists, critical people who take care of our COVID patients,” said Dr. Ross.
Those frontline workers say they’re feeling the burnout.
“We care for patients and people that really aren’t caring for themselves right now, and are going out and partying and then coming down with COVID, giving it to grandma and grandpa. When you’re seeing 30-40 COVID patients a day that are struggling to breathe, and making phone calls to families, none of us ever signed up for this,” said Quinones.
So for them, the light at the end of the tunnel has never been brighter.
Right now, AdventHealth is focused on vaccinating those at the greatest risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. As more vaccine becomes available to them, they’ll open that up to team members in other parts of the hospital.
AdventHealth is not requiring their frontline workers to get the vaccine, but Dr. Ross says they are encouraging it.