COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin in California

Dr. Brian Thompson (front, center), a 61-year-old emergency room doctor born at Kaiser Permenante Los Angeles Medical Center where he now works, was one of five health care workers to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. | Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Monday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti gathered at Kaiser Permenante Los Angeles Medical Center where five health care workers received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Helen Cordova, an intensive care unit nurse at the hospital, received the first shot.

“I’m feeling great. I’m excited. I’m hopeful,” Cordova said. “And I really encourage everyone to consider receiving the vaccine so we can start putting an end to this pandemic.”

Kim Taylor, a nurse in the emergency department, said, “Help is on the way. This is just the first step.”

On Sunday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup confirmed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and efficacious, giving California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington the green light to begin vaccinating people.

Following guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, health care workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities will be inoculated during the first phase of vaccine allocation.

Newsom lauded the vaccine’s arrival but adopted a cautious tone throughout the press conference, pleading for vigilance during a surge threatening to overwhelm hospitals in several regions throughout the state.

“It is a day where we can lay claim to the fresh air of progress versus that stale air of normalcy,” he said, “but none the less, we have to be sober and mindful about the moment we are in, which is challenging and trying.”

Of the 327,600 doses expected in California, 33,150 vaccines arrived in the state at four locations Monday. Placing the number in perspective, Newsom pointed out that California received as many doses as there were new cases in the state on Monday (33,278 new coronavirus infections).

The state’s first shipment arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday night. Twenty-four more locations in the state are set to receive doses Tuesday, followed by five more sites on Wednesday. California is also expecting 393,000 more doses next week. According to the governor, 2.1 to 2.6 million doses are expected by the end of the year, but he warned that California is “in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic.”

On average, the state has seen 31,000 daily new cases of COVID-19 and 159 deaths over the last seven days. Furthermore, more regions in the state are expected to reach ICU capacity — joining the San Joaquin Valley which is currently operating in surge capacity. In Southern California, ICU capacity has plunged to just 2.7%.

December 15, 2020

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Fabiola Diaz

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