LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – An ICU nurse at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Monday received one of the first doses of a long-awaited vaccine to prevent COVID-19 to be distributed in California.
Helen Cordova sat patiently and joked with other medical personnel as she was given the Pfizer vaccine, one of thousands of doses of the vaccine which arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday night.
The doses' arrival marked the first step in a massive undertaking that will see the county attempt to vaccinate 6 million people in six months, beginning with critical healthcare workers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti were on hand to watch the first of the roughly 83,000 doses of the vaccine distributed, with the initial doses distributed to 83 acute-care hospitals for administration to critical frontline workers. Orange County is expected to get another 25,000 doses.
The county anticipates receiving another 150,000 doses of vaccine by the end of December, followed by weekly allotments of 250,000 beginning in January.
After the distribution of vaccines to health care workers, skilled nursing facilities and long-term care staff and residents is completed, priority will then move to "essential workers" and then to people at highest risk of severe illness from the virus, such as seniors or those with underlying health conditions.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. Then on Sunday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and prevention did the same, allowing for the vaccine to be administered nationwide. The first freight trucks carrying about 184,000 vials rolled out of the Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Sunday.
Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed told reporters Saturday that UPS and FedEx would be delivering the vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the country.
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