South Florida COVID vaccination rollout struggles, other options available

South Florida COVID vaccination rollout struggles, other options available

2021-06-28T18:40:10-04:00January 29th, 2021|Economy, Fort Lauderdale, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Miami|

Writer: Joey Garrandcreate new email 


opens IMAGE file 3 min read January 2021 — The pandemic was first fought using PPE and ventilators that were initially in short supply. The crisis is now being combated by way of vaccinations which are currently experiencing the same global supply shortages. With 330 million people in the United States, eight billion globally, the world simply doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity to produce all that is needed in a short amount of time. Consequently, many regions are experiencing issues with their vaccine rollout plans, including South Florida.

A variety of hospitals and health centers in Miami recently canceled vaccination appointments on a large scale. Baptist Health, South Florida’s largest nonprofit hospital system, canceled first-dose appointments for seniors due to the supply shortage. Mount Sinai Medical Center, located in Miami Beach, has done the same. In an interview with NBC News, U.S. Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy stated that people may be waiting to receive the vaccine until late 2021.

Gov. Ron Desantis recently stated that the state is receiving 266,000 vaccinations per week, and there is no sign yet of that number increasing. As of Jan. 28, 2021, Florida has vaccinated 1.567opens PDF file million individuals, the vast majority of which being aged 65 and up. With the Census Bureau reporting that there are nearly 4.5 million individuals in Florida aged 65 and up, it will take more than 12 weeks before the most vulnerable age group of the population is entirely vaccinated at a rate of 266,000 vaccines per week. At this same rate, vaccinating the entire Floridian population would take well over a year. However, the vaccine isn’t the only weapon that can be used to fight COVID.

Although vaccines have taken the spotlight, an experimental treatment called monoclonal antibody treatment is an option that is currently being underutilized. South Florida hospitals and health care centers such as Baptist, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Broward Health, and Larkin have supplies of this treatment. 

Memorial Hospital Pembroke states on its website, “Memorial Hospital Pembroke has provided monoclonal antibody infusions to 270 patients who have high risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Of these high-risk patients, only four patients have needed to be admitted to the hospital post infusion.” The news release goes on to say that the outpatient process takes about 2 hours, and there are a variety of requirements to receive the treatment with the intention of targeting the most vulnerable of the population. Individuals must be 65 or over, but the age requirement drops to 55 for individuals with underlying conditions. The goal is to catch individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID and prevent the illness from escalating further. “Everything points to a life-saving drug, because the results have been outstanding,” said David Starnes, Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hospital Pembroke.

In an interview with WLRN, David Starnes also stated, “If we can get the word out to the community, which is what we’re desperately trying to do, we have about 1,000 doses of this drug left. We believe we can help save 1,000 lives.”