The first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations will arrive in California in just days, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday. This batch, containing 327,000 doses of COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer, is expected to be delivered mid-December. Developing antibodies requires two doses, so that 327,000 should be enough to vaccinate 163,500 individuals.
Distribution will be rolled out according to a four-phase plan, previously laid out by state health officials. The first, Phase 1A, will focus on “front line health care workers,” followed by the somewhat broader Phase 1B, which will include health workers, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes, and individuals who are at heightened risk of severe complications due to COVID-19. Specific details of how individuals will be selected to receive the vaccine have not yet been confirmed.
“Transparency, equity, and safety will continue to be our top priorities as we begin the distribution process for Phase 1,” Newsom wrote in a tweet.
Once all eligible Californians in the first phase have been given access to the limited supply of COVID vaccine, the state will move on to Phase 2, which is expected to include essential workers outside of the health field, and, as doses allow, members of the general public. Phase 3, the final stage, will be declared when the vaccine is available widely to the public.
For most in the state, that likely means a vaccine will be available in six to twelve months.
“While a small number of doses of an FDA-approved vaccine could be deployed before year’s end, the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us well into 2021–and widespread vaccine distribution likely won’t occur for many more months,” Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer, stated last month.