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1st Coronavirus Vaccine Approved: When Will It Arrive And How Will We Get It?

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Wesley Wheeler, President of Global Healthcare at UPS, holds up a sample of the vial that will be used to transport the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as he testifies before Congress about the logistics of vaccine distribution. (Samuel Corum/Pool/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles County is expecting to receive its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the next few days, after an FDA advisory panel gave the drug a green-light Thursday. The very first vaccines could begin as soon as next week.

The first shipment to L.A. County will include about 83,000 doses, followed up by nearly half a million more that should arrive by the last week of December. At the statewide level, California hospitals could receive 327,000 doses of the first COVID-19 vaccine between Saturday and Tuesday.

WHO IS FIRST IN LINE?

Frontline health care workers, along with residents and staff at long-term care facilities, will be first in line to get them.

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Here's Dr. Claire Jarashow, director of L.A. County's Vaccine and Preventable Disease Control Program:

"This is going to be the hardest logistical challenge, I think, that we've faced, and in the middle of a surge. So it's all hands on deck."

More widespread vaccinations for members of the general public aren't expected until the spring.

Dr. Dean Blumberg from UC Davis Children's Hospital says the families of frontline health care workers will not get priority:

"They've expressed that concern because we have some very good studies that show that households of health care workers are at increased risk of infection because the health care workers are out there in the workforce, so they aren't sheltering in place."

PLANS IN LONG BEACH

In Long Beach, as in L.A., officials said the general public could start getting doses by late spring, after health care workers, vulnerable populations, and essential workers.

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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said that once that first phase is complete, the city will convert its current COVID-19 test sites to double as drive-in vaccination sites:

"We understand that a lot of folks want to get vaccinated today. And we would love to have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone in the next couple of months. But the truth is, is that we have to vaccinate as we go, and as we get vaccinations coming in."

Long Beach expects to receive 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the month.

'VERY AGGRESSIVE' STATEWIDE MONITORING

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state will "be very aggressive" in monitoring vaccine distribution to ensure that those with money and connections are not somehow jumping to the front of the line.

Next up? Newsom said California will receive 672,000 doses of a different vaccine, this one by Moderna, in the next few weeks.

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