FIU starts COVID-19 vaccinations

University community members began receiving the first COVID-19 vaccinations at FIU on Wednesday. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and the Florida Department of Health allocated 2,000 vaccines to the university. The vaccines are made by Moderna and are available to FIU health care faculty and staff with direct patient contact—and faculty, staff and students 65 and older.

“FIU is doing its part,” says Dr. Eneida Roldan—CEO of the FIU HealthCare Network and clinical director for the newly opened FIU vaccination site and the Miami-Dade County COVID-19 testing site at the Fairgrounds adjacent to FIU. “We’ve got the preventative measures in place. We’ve got the screening, which is available to anyone at FIU who wants to get tested. And now we have the vaccines.” 

Nursing faculty member Charles Buscemi was the first to receive the vaccine at FIU. 

Buscemi receives the first vaccination at FIU from clinical associate professor Lucie Dlugasch. Nursing associate dean Yhovana Gordon captures the moment on her phone.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy, with a sense of relief that I’m starting the road to feeling safe after the impact of a horrific pandemic. As a nurse of more than 30 years, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never seen anything like this. My husband is vaccinated, so I feel our home is safer now. I have an immense sense of gratitude to the scientists who worked so hard to make this happen.”

Buscemi, who is administering the vaccinations to other university community members today, adds: “I think people need to trust and believe in science and realize that, although this was quick, efficiency wasn’t compromised, and they need to get vaccinated. This is a public health issue and this is for the safety of everybody.”  

Many who were vaccinated responded to the university-wide survey emailed to the FIU community last week. 

Chemistry Professor Steve Winkle, also part of the first cohort to be vaccinated, says he is thankful for the opportunity.

“Now, I can go out to California and meet my granddaughter who was born in July!” 

Anthony Bellantuono, a research assistant professor in biological sciences, interacts with the public as part of human studies. By getting vaccinated, Bellantuono, who was one of the first in line, says he’s doing his part.

“I’m completely thrilled to be a part of this and keep the university community safe,” he adds. “It’s a feat of science that we have this vaccine available to us this fast, and it’s safe. It’s just one tool to keep the community safe.”

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