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AdventHealth Daytona Beach will be the first hospital to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Volusia County. West Volusia hospitals are expected to receive doses in the coming weeks.

AdventHealth Orlando received 20,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 15 and is expected to use some 9,400 to inoculate frontline hospital employees in the Orlando area, beginning Dec. 16.

The remaining doses will be shared with AdventHealth hospitals in Lake and Volusia counties, and AdventHealth Daytona Beach will be the first to receive it, possibly “as early as next week,” Central Florida Division Chief Medical Officer Neil Finkler said during a press conference Dec. 15.

AdventHealth Orlando anticipates “widespread distribution” of COVID-19 vaccines across Florida in the coming weeks, Finkler said, following the expected emergency authorization of a second COVID-19 vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Moderna.

If the Moderna vaccine receives an emergency authorization, a shipment to Florida could come as soon as Monday, Dec. 21, Finkler said.

Frontline workers at AdventHealth hospitals will be “urged” to take the COVID-19 vaccine while it is in the emergency-authorization stage, Finkler said. When the vaccine receives full FDA approval, employees will be required to take it, unless they formally opt out.

AdventHealth employees will receive the vaccine at no cost. Frontline employees, as defined by AdventHealth, are those who are “high risk and exposed on a daily basis,” Finkler said. This includes employees in intensive-care units, COVID-19 units and emergency rooms, among others. Other employees will receive the vaccine on the basis of exposure risk as supply becomes available

All current safety measures will remain in place at AdventHealth hospitals, even after employees are inoculated. It is unclear now, Finkler said, whether individuals who receive the COVID-19 vaccine can still spread the virus to others.

Finkler urged everyone to take the vaccine when they are able, unless they are subject to “allergic reactions, particularly anaphylactic reactions” to drugs or food.

“I am confident this vaccine is effective,” Finkler said. “As a physician who has practiced medicine for nearly 40 years, I highly encourage all physicians, nurses, and our entire community to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to you.”

The vaccine will be available to the general public once a larger supply is available.

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