SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Another 2,925 of Pfizer's long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines arrived at UC San Diego Health for front line healthcare workers Tuesday morning.
The vaccine -- estimated to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 -- recently received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vaccine distribution is coordinated through the California Department of Public Health and public health departments, governed by recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Following these recommendations, health care workers are receiving the first available vaccinations.
"Our goal is to vaccinate as many employees as quickly as possible, depending upon supplies and evolving circumstances," said Patty Maysent, CEO of UC San Diego Health.
"With subsequent vaccine shipments from Pfizer and as other vaccines, such as Moderna, come online, we will expand the opportunity to vaccinate to all health system employees, our patients and communities beyond. We are determined to do this as safely and effectively, as rapidly and methodically, as we can," Maysent said. "But even with actual vaccinations starting, we must continue to follow all current measures designed to slow viral spread and infection, from masking and distancing to hand washing and signing up for CA NOTIFY."
The first doses of the vaccine arrived Monday with San Diego County receiving and storing about 12,000 in subzero freezers to distribute to regional acute health care hospitals. Rady Children's Hospital will also receive vaccines this week.
The 28,000 the county will receive in the first Pfizer batch is part of around 327,000 doses California is expected to receive in the first distribution. According to the county, the initial allotment will cover around 72% of what is needed for all identified health care first-tier recipients.
Critical care health workers will be the first people to get the vaccine, followed by nursing home and long-term care facility residents and employees. The initial distribution will not be sufficient to vaccinate all people in those populations; however, the state anticipates receiving hundreds of thousand more doses over the next few weeks, followed by weekly allocations starting next year.
Once people in these first two groups in are vaccinated and more COVID- 19 vaccine doses are available, they will go to essential workers such as people who work in education, food and agriculture, police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and transportation workers, among others.
After that, the priority will be to vaccinate adults with underlying medical conditions and people over the age of 65 because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.
Naval Medical Center San Diego received an unspecified number of vaccines Monday, with front-line medical workers and essential mission personnel -- such as EMS, firefighters and security personnel -- to begin receiving the first dose of the vaccinations Tuesday. Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton took a portion of those doses for personnel north of San Diego and will begin vaccinations Wednesday.
Rear Adm. Tim Weber, commander of Naval Medical Forces Pacific, said the number of doses delivered to the Navy in San Diego is likely fewer than the number of "first-tier" medical personnel at the two hospitals. Subsequent vaccine allotments -- as the supply chain dictates -- will allow for the second dose of the vaccine to be administered to medical and other mission-essential workers, as well as those who missed it the first time, Tricare dependents and non-essential personnel.
The number of doses delivered to the San Diego-area military is classified, Weber said, calling it an "operational security issue." However, the U.S. government has allocated vaccines to 64 jurisdictions, and the DOD plans to administer its initial allocation of 43,875 doses to populations of uniformed service members -- both active and reserves. That includes members of the National Guard, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select contract personnel.
Capt. Devin Morrison, acting director of Naval Medical Center San Diego, said vaccines for military personnel will be voluntary until the FDA's emergency use authorization is lifted, at which time military personnel will follow DOD guidelines. Military personnel, including medical workers, can refuse the vaccine until then and will continue to operate with strict personal protective equipment standards, Morrison said.