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Florida hospitals struggle to meet demand for vaccine

A nurse at Orlando Health receives the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Photo courtesy of Orlando Health.

As COVID-19 cases surge and the vaccine rollout continues, hospitals are scrambling to meet sky-high demand. 

Joining Intersection to talk about the role of hospitals in vaccine distribution and the challenges of getting the vaccine out to as many people as possible are Dr. George Ralls, the senior vice president and chief medical officer with Orlando Health, and Mary Mayhew, the CEO and president of the Florida Hospital Association. 

“The reality is the demand far exceeds the supply,” says Mayhew. 

Ralls says he was surprised when appointments for Orlando Health’s 20,000 doses of the vaccine were snapped up in 12 hours. 

“It filled up so fast,” says Ralls. 

He says despite decades of planning for a big pandemic, there are a lot of things Orlando Health couldn’t have anticipated.

“This is all new and all happening very fast and it’s outpacing, you know, what we can do as a system.” 

“The role that hospitals are playing today, to support this massive effort to vaccinate is far different than the process that typically exists for vaccinations,” says Mayhew. 

This process involves maximizing staff to be both at the bedside and administering the vaccine- all while keeping the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at a minimum. 

“We didn’t have this infrastructure,” Mayhew says. “There was no switch that we could just immediately flip to have this in place.”  

She says that hospitals may not have the kind of scheduling software and systems needed to support the vaccination effort.

“We have certainly seen the websites crashing at hospitals because of the intensity of volume.”

Mayhew says she hopes these problems will be smoothed out in the next few weeks.

Listen to part one of the conversation here:

Listen to part two of the conversation here:

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