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Monday, December 14, 2020

Vaccine Arrives in LA County

As Gov. Gavin Newsom watched a Los Angeles health care worker receive the first coronavirus vaccine injection today, Pasadena health officials were still waiting for word on when the vaccine would make it to the city.

The vaccine began reaching hospitals across the country this morning. Health care workers and other frontline workers will receive the first doses, along with patients in assisted living facilities.

Pasadena will initially receive 1,900 doses sometime this week, according to city officials.

Thousands of doses of the vaccine arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday night, marking the first step in a massive undertaking that will see the county attempt to vaccinate six million people in six months.

LAX officials trumpeted the arrival of the vaccine on Twitter, posting photos of the FedEx jetliner carrying the vaccine, which received formal approval for immediate use from federal authorities over the weekend.

Meanwhile, officials at Huntington Hospital said they were awaiting information about the vaccine’s exact delivery date.

Los Angeles County’s initial allotment was expected to total nearly 83,000 doses, a population-based percentage of the roughly 327,000 doses being received by the state of California. The county’s vaccines will be dispersed to nine ultra-cold storage facilities — the locations of which are not being released due to security concerns, although some hospitals have publicly stated they would be handling the medication.

Those facilities will distribute the doses to 83 acute-care hospitals, which will then oversee its administration to selected critical frontline workers.

Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles today received one of the first doses in the state of a long-awaited vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Helen Cordova sat patiently and joked with other medical personnel as she was given the Pfizer vaccine — administered with a shot in her right arm.

Newsom was among the public officials on hand at the Kaiser Permanente facility in Hollywood to watch Cordova’s inoculation.

Moments later, Newsom tweeted, “History made.” A handful of other Kaiser workers were also vaccinated as cameras rolled.

Pfizer and U.S. officials said the vaccine has been found to be 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

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.

UCLA Health officials said they expected to get the vaccines Monday or Tuesday, with shots to be administered on Wednesday.

“UCLA Health is implementing comprehensive and detailed plans to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccinations. We anticipate a limited number of doses arriving in the next day or two, with additional supplies to follow. We have been designated as a regional hub for distribution to other acute-care hospitals,” a UCLA Health statement said.

“Based on the phased allocations made available to UCLA Health, we are committed to offering vaccinations in a fair, equitable and orderly manner that prioritizes those at greatest risk, consistent with guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the California and Los Angeles County departments of public health. UCLA Health anticipates beginning to inoculate our own frontline health care workers as soon as Wednesday.”

Last week, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that the county hopes to receive its second allotment of a vaccine made by Moderna — about 250,000 doses, pending FDA approval — around Dec. 20-21.

Much of that second dose allotment will be distributed directly to skilled nursing facilities, allowing them to administer it right away instead of waiting for a federal distribution agreement with CVS and Walgreens to begin on or around Dec. 28.

Staff and residents of nursing facilities and long-term care facilities will be among the first wave of people receiving the Moderna vaccine, which does not require the ultra-cold storage needed for the Pfizer vaccine. Long-term care facilities will still receive the vaccine through CVS and Walgreens.

Ferrer said public health officials on Friday began the process of training skilled nursing facility staff on how to administer the vaccination, while noting that those staffers already administer flu vaccines, so it is not a new experience.

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. Both vaccines require two doses, separated by about three weeks, which amounts to 12 million doses.

After the distribution of the vaccine 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 the highest risk of severe illness from the virus, such as seniors or those with underlying health conditions.

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