California’s first coronavirus vaccine doses will be arriving soon, and the state has tripled the amount of doses it will be receiving this month, officials said Wednesday.
The state has now ordered 999,000 doses, including 672,000 of the Moderna vaccine expected to be delivered later this month, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
The first 327,000 doses officials previously announced were ordered from Pfizer will arrive “in the coming days,” the governor’s office said in a tweet. Newsom has said they are expected this weekend or by early next week.
The nearly 1 million doses arriving this month will vaccinate around 1% of the state’s 40 million residents, because both vaccines require two doses.
First in line to get vaccinated in California will be health care workers and nursing home residents, and the state says it is prepared to launch the initial phase.
“Wide distribution is further away but hope is on the horizon,” the governor’s office wrote.
A state advisory committee outlined three tiers for vaccine distribution, with first responders and dialysis centers rounding out the first tier. After that other medical facilities, public health workers, pharmacy staff and dental workers will be prioritized.
However, the vaccines still await approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A federal committee is set to vote Thursday on the Pfizer vaccine, which could begin shipping Friday if approved. An FDA analysis found the Pfizer vaccine appears safe and more than 90% effective across patients of different ages, races and underlying health conditions.
The FDA is set to consider Moderna’s emergency-use application Dec. 17. Moderna says it’s vaccine also appears safe and more than 94% effective.
Pfizer’s vaccine has already been approved for use in Canada, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, where the world’s first doses were administered Tuesday.
Once California receives vaccine doses, they’ll be divvied up among six regions — different from the five regions outlined in Newsom’s latest stay-home order.
The region covering Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties is expected to get 126,750 doses from the Pfizer batch, the most of any region.
L.A. County expects to receive about 84,000 doses from the first allocation, its public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said this week.
Newsom has said vaccine distributions will be complicated by the fact that doses must be stored at freezing temperatures — especially the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius, or about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
The state bought 16 ultra-low temperature freezers to transport the vaccines, as well as dozens more smaller freezers, which will be sent out where they’re needed throughout the state — especially in rural areas.
Among the sites prepared to receive doses is Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which was already equipped with ultra-cold temperature freezers.