Seven California hospitals will be among the first in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Mercy Medical Center, Redding; Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego; UCD Health, Sacramento; UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco; Valley Children’s Healthcare, Madera; and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital are on a list provided by the California Department of Public Health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider this month authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to become available first and needs to be stored in ultra-low temperatures freezers and the state identified sites that could provide cold storage, according to a statement from California’s health department. Additionally, they chose sites that have the “highest-risk” healthcare population, were willing to distribute the vaccine outside their facility and network, and were geographically spread across the state as much as possible.
The health department said the list may grow as more hospitals meet the criteria for ultra-cold capacity.
The federal government has asked hospitals for “pre-positioning” to distribute the vaccine and the health department said, “With or without pre-positioning, we will effectively distribute the vaccine at first to our local health jurisdictions and hospitals, and later to a larger number of sites,” the department said in a statement.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state will be receiving 327,00 doses of the new Pfizer vaccine in mid-December. Healthcare workers will be first in line to receive inoculations. The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots. As a result, the shots will be rationed in the early stages.
“Mass vaccination is unlikely to occur any time soon,” Newsom said at a recent press briefing. “March, April, June, July, that’s where we start to scale.”
The exact timeline for the first allocation from Pfizer is unknown but it’s expected before the end of December.
“Our goal is to start the first shipment as soon as possible, possibly within hours of receiving authorization or approval from any regulatory agency,” said Francesca Marzullo, manager of Pfizer Global Supply Communications. “In some countries, health authorities may also issue vaccine recommendations immediately before distributions. We can only supply countries once regulatory authorization or approval has been granted and we will supply each country with vaccine doses through a robust process, consistent with supply agreements we’ve entered into with individual countries.”