The first COVID-19 vaccinations in the Bay Area could be happening in a matter of days as doses of Pfizer’s vaccine get shipped to California.

Health care workers as well as residents and employees at long-term care facilities are the first groups eligible for the vaccinations.

Dr. George Rutherford at UCSF said having reached this moment at this time is historic.

“Having two phase three vaccine trials closed and finalized and on the cusp of being approved within 11 months, it’s just unprecedented,” he said.

More importantly, Rutherford said the vaccine will impact UCSF’s workforce, specifically in the intensive care unit, by lowering absenteeism and also decrease the amount of patients being taken in from long-term care facilities.

“Those are two things you are going to see right off the bat and I think it will at least stabilize and eventually ease the crush on ICU beds,” he said.

The immense task of shipping doses of the Pfizer vaccine is underway, with 2.9 million doses expected to go out this week. California is expected to receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month.

In a video Sunday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom touted the approval of the vaccine by a group of medical professionals on the West Coast.

“A 17 member panel…unanimously recommending the quick distribution of the Pfizer vaccine,” he said. “They reviewed the safety. They reviewed the efficacy.”

Confirming an official arrival time for the vaccine doses may be difficult. Fedex and UPS are not revealing any details.

San Jose State University professor and cybersecurity expert Ahmed Banafa said the focus is on protecting the supply chain.

“They have to keep this one secret,” he said. “They don’t want to give anybody an advance knowledge about where the shipments going to go.”

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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