Pfizer’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in-the United States Monday morning, U.S. officials said Saturday 12 Dec 2020, after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.
Roll out will start Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the states, said Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. An additional 450 or so facilities will get the vaccine between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Initially, about 3 million shots are expected to be shipped nationwide. It was unclear exactly who would receive the first doses of the vaccine, though health workers and nursing home residents were the priority. Perna said health authorities would decide.
A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19.
The announcement Saturday kicks off a massive logistical operation involving the federal and state governments, private companies and health care workers to quickly distribute limited vaccine supplies throughout the U.S.
Distribution locations include hospitals and other sites able to meet those ultra-cold storage requirements. Within three weeks, vaccines should be delivered to all vaccination sites identified by state governments, such as local pharmacies, Perna said.
The vaccine was timed to arrive Monday morning so that health workers would be available to receive the shots and begin giving them, Perna said.
It comes after the Food and Drug Administration late Friday authorized emergency use of the vaccine. The signoff capped an unprecedented global race to speed vaccines through testing and review, chopping years off the normal development process.
Concerns that a shot was rushed out could undermine vaccination efforts in a country with deeply ingrained skepticism about vaccines.
While determined to be safe, regulators in the U.K. are investigating several severe allergic reactions. The FDA’s instructions tell providers not give it to those with a known history of severe allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.
The announcement came after revelations last week that the White House opted not to lock in an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for delivery in the second quarter of 2021. The Trump administration contends the current orders plus those in the pipeline will be enough to accommodate any American who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter of 2021.