December 14: Front-line workers at UF Health Jacksonville have begun to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine. They are the first in Florida, and possibly in the Southeast, to do so.

David R. Nelson, M.D. Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF & President, UF Health

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This is a great day to be a Florida Gator!

Today marks a major milestone not just in the history of UF Health and the University of Florida, but also in the nation and the world. 

At 10:39 a.m. this morning, a group of 10 front-line health care workers at UF Health Jacksonville began to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, shortly after a shipment of several thousand doses arrived at our health system. They are the first in Florida, and possibly the Southeast, to do so.

Our own Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr., a board-certified emergency room physician, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, was among the first to be vaccinated. He was followed by additional physicians, nurses, a pharmacist and other health care employees who work in areas of the hospital that most frequently care for patients with COVID-19.

I would like to extend my appreciation to them for taking this important step, which will not only help protect them, but also their patients, family members, friends and the community at large.

At 2:15 p.m. this afternoon, we received the first doses of the vaccine at UF Health in Gainesville, and will begin vaccinating members of our health care team here on Wednesday.

As I said in my email message to you earlier today, this moment is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a true testament to the power of science, and to your many efforts over these past several months to help advance the patient care, research and educational missions at our great university, home to one of the nation’s premier academic health centers. 

Although supplies of the vaccine are initially limited, we look forward to sharing more information with you very soon about additional plans for distribution to other groups at UF Health, to the greater university and, importantly, to our communities throughout the region and across the state.

I’m truly thrilled to share this update with you today. And in case you missed my earlier message today, please see below. I feel it’s a message worth repeating, as it demonstrates how rapidly things are now happening … something we can all be grateful for at a time when hope is so needed.

David R. Nelson, M.D.

Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF &

President, UF Health