Biggest challenges facing hospitals: Vaccine supply, staffing

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 3:57 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The latest numbers published by the state show nearly 290,000 Floridians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine rollout hasn’t been without its challenges and Florida hospitals are faced with a classic dilemma of supply and demand.

A vaccine distribution site in the state capital was running smoothly Tuesday.

Vaccinations had to be scheduled, resulting in short lines and wait times. But that’s not the case everywhere.

Distribution sites in multiple counties have seen long lines and a flood of people trying to schedule appointments, causing website and phone line crashes.

“Well let’s start with the positive, that so many people want to get vaccinated,” said Florida Hospital Association President Mary Mayhew.

Mayhew said with less than a million doses, many of the issues come down to supply and demand.

“We have 4.5 million people 65 and older and you need two doses,” said Mayhew.

Hospitals are also faced with staffing challenges, as more than 7,500 patients are hospitalized with COVID.

“Our challenge today will be the availability of a workforce. Both a workforce that can be at the bedside... as well as those who can now help to vaccinate,” said Mayhew.

Hospitals are also faced with the uncertainty of when and how many doses of vaccine they may receive.

“[It’s] Very difficult to support the kind of logistics that you need to plan accordingly without that kind of longer-term predictability of vaccine week over week,” said Mayhew.

To ramp up vaccination efforts the governor called on vaccination sites to operate seven days a week, but meeting that goal is also contingent on having adequate staff and vaccine.

The Florida Hospital Association is applauding the governor’s announcement Monday that the state will hire 1,000 additional nurses to help alleviate some of the staffing issues posed by the vaccination effort.

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