PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Over the next several days, Pinellas County Health Department is working to vaccinate residents and employees at all of their long-term care facilities with the new COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.

“We’ve seen our share of loss in our long-term care facilities,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on a virtual press conference Wednesday. He says getting vaccines for residents in nursing homes will be months in the making. “So this project and moving forward with the vaccinations in our long-term care facilities is really important, it’s critical.”

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Credit: Pinellas County | CW44 News At 10

Pinellas and Broward Counties were selected to be part of a Coronavirus Pilot Project which vaccinates people in long-term care facilities. Wednesday, members of the Pinellas County Health Department announced over the next five days, their goal is to visit and vaccinate residents and staff at 68 nursing homes.

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Doctor, Ulyee Choe, with the Florida Department of Health says “this is truly life-saving use for some of the most vulnerable population here in Pinellas County,” who says the county received 10,700 vaccines initially, and the county plans to use all of them. “As more vaccines become available, I’d like to move on to other long-term care facilities,” said Choe.

At this time, there’s a limited number of vaccines available to Florida. Choe says there’s always a starting point though, “We are visiting 13 facilities today, and we are prepared to vaccinate over 1,900 [people].” He says with such a large task, paramedics and the Florida National Guard are helping to vaccinate people in nursing homes. “The vaccine is a game-changer in this fight against this pandemic. A pandemic we’ve been facing for the last five months.”

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Pinellas County officials say while vaccines for the general public will not be available for a while, they are coordinating efforts to establish vaccine distribution sites for when they become available.

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