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California Officials Working To Get Coronavirus Vaccine To Healthcare Workers

TORRANCE (CBSLA) -- First responders at Torrance Memorial received their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine during an event on Saturday, and the co-director of infection control was honored with a hero's welcome as he sat down to become the first person to get the vaccine there.

Torrance Memorial plans to vaccinate 2,000 workers before the end of December.

Dr. David Rand, the Torrance Memorial Co-Director of Infection Control, said giving it to the front line workforce first will help healthcare teams properly take care of patients.

"Hopefully for us, it allows us to be able to take care of people without having that fear in the back of our minds that we're gonna be getting Covid and just allows us to take care of people that much better," Rand said.

It was a much-needed boost as healthcare workers are facing a local surge that some have said threatens to make L.A. County the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

California is scrambling to get doses to healthcare workers and now Moderna, another promising vaccine, is poised to help.

After getting FDA approval on Friday for emergency use of its vaccine, Moderna started shipping and the first doses should arrive to healthcare providers on Monday.

State leaders are expecting 672,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine in California by the end of the month.

While the vaccines could mean things are moving in the right direction, doctors say Americans still have a part to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

With people traveling and gathering next week for Christmas, officials are concerned cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise.

"It has the potential to be devastating," Rand said. "There is light at the end of the tunnel and this is it, but we're still in the tunnel and the tunnel is long."

This week, California leaders realized they got 233,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine instead of the 393,000 expected. Other states reported similar findings, to which officials chalked up to a "miscommunication" about the number of doses being delivered.

California Gov. Newsom says with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the state hopes to have more than 2 million total doses by the end of the year, which are expected to go first to front line workers, those at nursing facilities and long-term care staff and residents.

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