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Tampa General Hospital receives 1st COVID-19 vaccine shipment Monday morning

The first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived about a day after they departed a facility in Portage, Michigan.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa General Hospital received its first doses of Pfizer's recently-approved COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz joined Tampa General Hospital CEO John Couris at the hospital for a press conference, where a doctor said the first shipment to the hospital included 20,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine. 

DeSantis said another shipment of 20,000 doses will be delivered statewide on Tuesday.

"So you will see be seeing folks at Tampa General being vaccinating with this shipment," DeSantis said. "But you will also this week, see employees from some of these other areas."

He's hopeful that Moderna's vaccine will be approved for emergency use by the end of this week and will be delivered starting next week. When Moderna's vaccine is distributed, DeSantis said Florida should receive between 300,000 and 400,000 doses. 

At the end of the press conference, Vanessa Arroyo, a nurse at Tampa General, was the first person to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital.

DeSantis watched as the boxes of vaccine doses arrived. The vaccine will first be provided to health care workers and others at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus, such as people living at long-term care facilities.

People living in long-term care centers in Broward and Pinellas counties will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County says they were in meetings Monday developing the roster of which long-term care facilities will be getting the first doses of the vaccine.

"Getting these key workers vaccinated, you're going to ensure that health care is going to be delivered uninterrupted, not just for COVID, but for many other things which are very very pressing," DeSantis said.

DeSantis last week said the federal government allocated 179,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the state. Following emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday, the first shipments of the vaccine exited Pfizer's facility Sunday morning in Portage, Michigan, to be sent to distribution centers across the country.

Tampa General Hospital is among five hospitals in Florida that will get a portion of 97,500 doses. It says the hospital has the ability to maintain the ultra-cold storage required by the vaccine -- 112 degrees below zero.

"We are ready, and it is absolutely game time," Tampa General Hospital CEO John Couris said. "And we will not let down this community."

RELATED: 'We're ready': Tampa General Hospital prepares to take in Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine once approved

Another 60,450 will be sent to CVS and Walgreens for use in long-term care facilities, and about 21,450 doses are allocated for the Florida Department of Health.

Pfizer's vaccine follows a two-dose schedule, meaning people who receive the first shot must get the second shot about three weeks later. The FDA says the vaccine was 95-percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among clinical trial participants based upon the schedule.

The vaccine, like other medications, could cause side effects. Those most commonly reported side effects include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever, according to the FDA. Among trial participants, more people experienced side effects after the second dose. 

Still, side effects still could be felt after the first dose.

RELATED: Side effects from COVID-19 vaccine likely will be unpleasant, doctors advise

RELATED: Read Florida's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

The U.S. could have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year following approval of one developed by Moderna. It has a similar efficacy against COVID-19 like Pfizer's vaccine but does not have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to transport and deliver.

The FDA is scheduled to discuss emergency use authorization of the Moderna vaccine on Thursday, Dec. 17.

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