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UPDATE ON DOH’S PILOT PROGRAM FOR NURSING HOME VACCINATIONS IN PINELLAS

By Maggie Hall, PIO

January 25, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – In December 2020, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) selected Pinellas and Broward as two counties in a pilot program to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff. The pilot program allocated 10,700 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to Pinellas for this initiative. (These vaccines are stored in ultra-cold freezers and must be used within six hours once they are thawed and diluted.)

DOH-Pinellas worked with National Guard and emergency medical personnel strike teams to transport vaccines to all 68 long-term care facilities in Pinellas County.

During the course of six weeks, Pinellas strike teams will have vaccinated more than 8,400 residents and staff at long-term care facilities. An issue arose when open Pfizer-BioNTech vials that had been used by strike teams were returned to DOH-Pinellas at the end of each day with extra doses remaining. Because the agency had been directed to not waste any doses, leftovers in vials were sometimes administered after hours and on weekends to others outside of nursing homes. This occurred in a handful of cases at the St. Petersburg center when staff or their close contacts were administered leftover doses in open vials. Since the first days of the pilot program, teams have used more pre-planning to avoid having leftover doses in open vials that could possibly be wasted. The Public Health Foundation has released a Process Decision Program Chart to limit COVID-19 vaccine waste that specifies “If vaccine is unfrozen and there are too few individuals in the target to be vaccinated, immediately recruit/seek other potential vaccine recipients.”

The remaining supply from the 10,700 originally allocated by the state were shared with first responders and health-care workers in Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk Counties as well as with more than 3,000 members of the public who were 65 years of age and older.

Per the Governor’s Executive Order 20-315 dated 12/23/20, vaccines have been administered to residents aged 65 and older and health-care workers. DOH-Pinellas vaccinated these groups per the order using allocations from the pilot program. Teams began providing vaccines in nursing homes in December 2020.

In January, 10,000 doses were allocated to Pinellas by the state and are being provided now at four sites spanning the county. As more vaccines arrive, appointments will be made via the CDR Health Patient Portal at www.PatientPortalFL.com.

For more information about DOH-Pinellas, go to www.PinellasHealth.com and follow us on Twitter @HealthyPinellas.

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The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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