WASHINGTON (AP/CBS13) — The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic.

After Friday’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration, shots will begin in a few days.  The FDA called the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech safe and strongly protective.

But initial doses are scarce and rationed, with health workers and nursing home residents first in line. Enough for the general population isn’t expected until spring, and experts urge people to mask up and keep their distance during a long, grim winter.

READ ALSO: ‘Something To Look Forward To’: Health Officials Remain Positive As COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduled To Arrive At UC Davis Health

California officials say after health care workers and long-term care residents get the vaccine, essential workers will be next in line. According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, California is set to receive more than 300,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in December. Newsom says the Moderna vaccine will follow.

In October, Newsom is promised a “treasure trove” of California health experts will independently review any vaccine that is approved federally.

“A question I often get is: Are you going to take someone’s word for it as it relates to vaccines? Of course, we don’t take anyone’s word for it,” Newsom said in an October press conference.

READ MORE: Gov. Newsom Lays Out Timeline For COVID-19 Vaccine In California

California has had nearly 1.4 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 20,622 virus-related deaths.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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