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Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives At UF Health Jacksonville; 1st Shots Administered

UF Health Jacksonville hospital has taken delivery of the Pfizer vaccine for coronavirus.

The first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine arrived Monday morning and is being given to health care workers, then seniors and others at higher risk for the disease.

UF Health Jacksonville CEO Leon Haley, who is also an emergency physician, received the first shot Monday as those gathered around the hospital's lobby cheered. 

“This is a humbling moment,” Haley said. “This is just the beginning of a long battle. We’ll still need to wear our masks. We’ll still need to wash our hands,” he told WJCT News partner News4Jax.

UF Health Jacksonville received 20,000 doses in the first shipment, according to News4Jax, some of which will be delivered to other area hospitals, including Baptist Health.

The UF Health Jacksonville is one of five in the state receiving the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, in part because of their ability to store it at the extremely cold temperature required, which is about 94 degrees below zero.

The other hospitals are in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Hollywood. 

Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of accreditation and infection prevention, said the hospital is first giving vaccines to its high-risk and high-exposure health care workers, including doctors and nurses in the emergency department and those working in the COVID-19 unit.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Jacksonville after heading out from Michigan Sunday morning.

Federal officials said the shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centers Monday, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and a remaining 66 on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health reported a single-day increase of 8,958 COVID-19 cases at the time of this story's publication, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 1,125,931.

Duval County added 533 new cases, while St. Johns County recorded 116 new cases, Clay County 83, Putnam County 39, Nassau County 33 and Baker County 13.

The statewide positivity rate also jumped back above 10% - to 10.37% - in tests received on Saturday.

The number of hospitalizations rose as well. As of Sunday afternoon, the Agency for Health Care Administration reported 4,687 patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 in hospitals across Florida

A total of 19,866 Floridians have now died from COVID-19.

Neilsen appeared on WJCT'sFirst Coast Connect with Melissa RossMonday morning. His full interview will be available this afternoon on and the WJCT app.