Vaccination

UF Health is receiving periodic shipments of vaccine doses. We are administering the vaccine for free to UF Health faculty and staff based on the criteria the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, established, offering the vaccine first to a priority group of our front-line health care workers and those working in high-risk areas where they are most likely to encounter an exposure.

In Florida, UF Health Jacksonville was one of five hospitals that received the first distribution of the vaccine. Many factors were reviewed when determining which hospitals were selected, including storage capabilities and city population. UF Health Jacksonville also worked to coordinate distribution of those initial doses to other health care facilities in Jacksonville, along with UF Health campuses in Gainesville and Central Florida. This is an incredible example of the power of One UF and One UF Health at work.

At the same time, state officials are designating some shipments to long-term care facilities, whose residents are among those at highest risk for serious or even deadly complications of COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many vaccines will UF Health receive?

UF Health Jacksonville received an initial supply of 20,000 vaccines. We are working with the Florida Department of Health to coordinate distribution to other hospitals and health care providers in Jacksonville, along with UF Health’s health campuses in Gainesville and Central Florida, although the timing is still being worked out. We expect to receive regular shipments of vaccines in the future. Quantities will be determined by the Department of Health.

Who can receive the vaccine?

UF Health will follow state recommendations for prioritization of vaccine administration, based on:

  • Available quantities
  • Risk factors for specific populations
  • Advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Advice from other health care experts

Because initial supplies of the vaccine will be limited, it will be given in phases based on priority groups, starting with employees who provide direct care to COVID-19 patients.

Eventually, all employees and medical staff who are interested in receiving the vaccine will have an opportunity to be vaccinated. Our staff and other essential workers will be offered the vaccine before it is available to patients and the community.

UF Health Physicians, Faculty & Staff

For information on vaccine distribution for UF Health Jacksonville clinical faculty and staff, please visit the Emerging Issues section of the UF Health Bridge (login required). As well, physicians, faculty and staff for UF Health Jacksonville can access additional information on the physicians and staff information website (login required).

Which UF Health patients will be eligible to receive the vaccine when it is available?

UF Health will follow the state’s and CDC’s recommendations for prioritization of vaccine administration, which will be based on vaccine supply and other factors. The vaccine will be given in phases, with our staff receiving it first. We expect we will eventually vaccinate residents in communities across the state.

UF Health patients will be notified via MyChart and their physician’s office when vaccines are available, along with information on how to schedule appointments if they would like to be vaccinated.

Will UF Health offer the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone in the community who is not a UF Health patient?

Our goal is to offer the vaccine to anyone who wants to be vaccinated once there is a sufficient supply.

Is UF Health Jacksonville providing doses to other hospitals?

UF Health in Jacksonville received the initial allocation of Pfizer vaccines and has supplied vaccines to our hospitals, as well as to other hospitals in the Jacksonville community. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine among local hospitals and health care systems is determined by the state.

Why is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary?

COVID-19 can be a mild illness in some people; however, it can cause serious complications or lead to death in others — including healthy people. At a population level, COVID-19 places an extra burden on our health care system, and this results in significant downstream effects to other patient populations as well. Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19. This is why enhancing prevention efforts is so important in the battle against this disease.

One proven way to enhance prevention of an infectious disease like COVID-19 is through achieving “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is when enough people in a population develop immunity to a particular infectious agent (e.g., a virus). When this happens, the infectious agent is no longer able to spread effectively within the population. With nowhere to go, the infectious agent can be reduced to very manageable levels or in some cases eliminated altogether. Depending on how contagious an infectious agent is, it usually takes 50% to 90% of a population being immune to achieve the desired goal of herd immunity. For an infectious agent like the virus that causes COVID-19, experts say that 75% to 85% of the population needs to be immune to achieve herd immunity. The best way to achieve these levels this is through development of a safe and effective vaccine.

Are COVID-19 vaccines undergoing testing in clinical trials?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are required to undergo clinical trials like all other vaccines to determine if they are safe and effective before they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Isn’t it unusual for vaccines to be developed this quickly?

In response to the rapid spread and devastating effects of COVID-19 worldwide, the federal government launched Operation Warp Speed, or OWS, to accelerate the development of a vaccine. OWS has enabled researchers to advance into phase 3 clinical trials (testing the vaccine on large groups of people to evaluate safety and effectiveness) in six months instead of the typical several years. A number of factors played a role in enabling the vaccine to be rolled out quickly, including early funding, extraordinary focus on one disease, advancing technology in genetic sequencing of the virus, overlapping the three phases of the clinical trial rather than performing them in sequence, faster recruitment of volunteers given the high interest in the general public, review of the data by the regulators in real-time and finally the technology of the vaccine itself. The trials were not fast-tracked by compromising quality, safety or efficacy — no steps to evaluate safety or effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines were skipped. Visit hhs.gov/sites/default/files/fact-sheet-operation-warp-speed.pdf for more information.

Have any COVID-19 vaccines been approved by the FDA yet?

On Dec. 11, the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA. On Dec. 15, the FDA released a detailed analysis of the Moderna vaccine that supports the authorization of the company's vaccine for emergency use and clearance for EUA is expected to be imminent.

What is emergency use authorization?

The FDA can issue an Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, during a public health emergency. For the FDA to issue an EUA for COVID-19 vaccines, safety and effectiveness of the product must be demonstrated through a phase 3 clinical trial, and certain criteria must be met, including that there are no approved and available alternatives.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe and effective?

The FDA is responsible for making sure that any approved vaccines are safe and that they work. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee reviews safety, quality and efficacy issues and advises the FDA. Their FDA Briefing Document, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, can be found at https://www.fda.gov/media/144245/download.

Is one of the COVID-19 vaccines better than the other?

The FDA applies the same review process to all vaccines, regardless of the manufacturer. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is a group of medical and public health experts that develops recommendations on how to use vaccines to control diseases in the United States. The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have both been shown to be at least 90% effective.

When will a vaccine be available?

Once a vaccine is approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, states will receive an allocation of vaccine from the federal government. Operation Warp Speed aims to deliver millions of doses of a vaccine by January 2021, depending on several factors. It is expected that initially, there will be a limited supply of vaccine.

How many COVID-19 vaccines will Florida receive?

Under Operation Warp Speed, every state will receive vaccines. It is expected that initially, there will be a limited supply and the number each state receives depends on several factors.

In Florida, five hospitals will receive the vaccine for initial distribution. These hospitals include UF Health Jacksonville, Tampa General, AdventHealth Orlando, Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Many factors were reviewed when determining which hospitals were selected, including storage capacity and city population.

Will the vaccine be available to everyone in Florida?

The Florida Department of Health is collaborating with health systems about the use of initially available limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines and will provide guidance on the prioritization order of who will receive the vaccine. This will be based on available quantities, risk factors for specific populations and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and other health care experts. The CDC has provided guidance that populations for initial COVID-19 vaccination may include these groups:

  • Health care personnel
  • Long-term care residents and workers

More Information About COVID-19 Vaccination

UF Health (Gainesville) Vaccine Information

CDC Vaccine Information