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First Health Workers Vaccinated In Central Florida

Sue Upper, nurse manager of the AdventHealth Orlando COVID unit, gets vaccinated December 16.

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The first health care workers in Central Florida got vaccinated against COVID-19 Wednesday.

AdventHealth got 20,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and frontline health care workers began getting vaccinated Wednesday morning.

Sue Upper, the nurse manager of the COVID-19 unit at AdventHealth Orlando, was one of the first to get vaccinated in Central Florida.

“I didn’t feel it, well done!” Upper said after she got the shot.

The vaccine is first going to those in high-risk areas: the COVID units, ICUs and emergency departments. While more than 70 percent of survey respondents now now say they are willing to get vaccinated – an increase over a month prior – epidemiologists are worried that too many people are hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I think the frontline staff is pretty on board with the vaccine, we haven’t had a lot of hesitation,” Upper said. “They’re signing up and they’re ready to go.”

Dr. Steven Smith, the Chief Scientific Officer for AdventHealth’s Central Florida division, said turnout was strong.  Smith said that in addition to the Pfizer vaccine, Advent is also expecting a shipment of the Moderna vaccine – if the FDA issues an emergency use authorization.

“We’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, per day as people sign up as people sign up and as the supply continues to get delivered,” Smith said. “I would point out this is one shipment, we’ll get another shipment in a few weeks to provide the second dose.”

The vaccine is being offered to staff members if they work in those high-risk areas, such as the COVID intensive care units, emergency department or in surgical settings.

AdventHealth expects about 9,400 of its employees to get vaccinated. The remainder will be given to employees at other hospitals, including Orlando Health, Nemours and HCA.

Dr. Regan Schwartz , an emergency room doctor, gets vaccinated against COVID-19 Wednesday, December 16.


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

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