Orange Park Medical Center inoculating staff against COVID-19

First wave of vaccines arrives at OPMC, Ascension St. Vincent’s

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 12/30/20

ORANGE PARK – The line of employees started at the Orange Park Medical Center within moments after the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Doctors and nurses, many who’ve …

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Orange Park Medical Center inoculating staff against COVID-19

First wave of vaccines arrives at OPMC, Ascension St. Vincent’s

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The line of employees started at the Orange Park Medical Center within moments after the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Doctors and nurses, many who’ve worked tirelessly for months under extreme circumstances, were eager to get their inoculations to stop the deadly virus.

For the first time since cases were reported in Clay County last March, the staff at the hospital was happy to finally fight back against the very coronavirus they are committed to fighting.

“You could feel the excitement in the air,” said Emergency Room Dr. Ed Descallar. “You could see it in the faces of our providers.”

OPMC received its allotment of 2,500 doses two days before Christmas. Ascension St. Vincent’s Clay County in Middleburg should be receiving its vaccines within days. St. Vincent’s dedicated its first shipment of inoculations last week, and it’s already giving doses to its employees at its downtown Jacksonville location.

The first round of vaccines was slated for frontline workers at hospitals that deal with COVID-19 cases. On the same day Orange Park received its vaccines, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that mandated the first to get inoculations will be health care personnel with direct patient contact, persons 65 or older and members and staff of long-term care facilities.

The state’s combined rollout of 367,000 Moderna and Pfizer doses will take two weeks, the Florida Department of Health reported.

All 2,500 doses at Orange Park will be spent on the employees of the hospital. People on the front lines, COVID nursing unit, ER, ICU were first in line.

Hundreds received their shots at OPMC on the day the vaccine arrived, including Descallar.

Unused vaccines will be re-directed to other hospitals.

“We know the Moderna vaccine is extremely close in ethoxy compared to the Pfizer vaccine,” Descallar said. “Honestly, receiving the vaccine is huge. It’s a sigh of relief and a large feeling of optimism. This is a huge step in this fight against this COVID-19 pandemic.”

The medical community has been on defense since the virus was unleashed from China a year ago. Descallar said the way the virus spread so quickly was “one of many punches,” the community has been forced to endure.

With the new vaccine, the world finally is able to go on offense.

Descallar said there were early indications the coronavirus would be more widespread than originally believed.

“We some sort of idea based on the things we were seeing coming out of China,” Descallar said. “But it really took the country by storm. I think before it really hit us, there was a large feeling of apprehension. Luckily our group over here at Orange Park rode the wave pretty well. I think that we’ve persevered up until now.”

Once federal and state officials create a detailed distribution plan, DeSantis said future doses will go to CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, as well as second tier of susceptible residents in late winter or early spring.

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