FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today, Lee Health President & CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci provided an update on the health system's vaccination program.
"Getting our community vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 is an essential step in reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. In fact, it is the most effective way to finally put the pandemic behind us," Antonucci said." It will take some time to get everyone vaccinated but we are collaborating as a team with Lee County government and the Department of Health– Lee County to efficiently administer the vaccine through multiple access points."
Lee Heath received an additional 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine each week for the last two weeks. Last week, 100 of those doses were reserved for second doses and the remaining 900 were given to vulnerable patients of the health system under 65.
"As you know, the Lee Health Board of Directors sent a letter to several state leaders last week requesting assistance in vaccinating our frontline health care workers. Some saw this as a critique of the efforts of state leaders, but that was not the intention at all. It was simply a request to get additional doses of the vaccine for frontline nurses and doctors, not only those employed at Lee Health, but also those employed by community physician and dentist offices'" Antonucci said.
The state is counting on hospitals to help get the vaccine to those under the age of 65 who are medically vulnerable. Lee Health is in a unique position to vaccinate the vulnerable in a safe place and to know who they are thanks to their electronic health records system.
Lee Health received another 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and will continue to focus on vulnerable adults between 18 and 65, but may also vaccinate some frontline staff who are most at risk to exposure.
As the health system receives vaccines for patients, they will use electronic health records to prioritize who gets vaccinated based on medical history. Those with the most co-morbidities will be vaccinated first and will be contacted by the health system to schedule their shots.
"We are looking forward to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been submitted for emergency use authorization. The FDA should be deciding on its approval in the coming weeks. This vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 85%, and unlike its predecessors, it is a single-shot vaccine," said Antonucci. "In addition to the Johnson & Johnson news, Pfizer has announced that over the last four weeks they doubled the output capacity of their vaccine. These developments provide a new hope that, very soon, we could see an influx of vaccine availability in Florida."