As the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrive in California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday launched “Vaccinate All 58,” California’s campaign for a “safe, fair and equitable vaccine for all 58 counties in the state,” according to a press release from his office.
The governor joined Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, one of the first locations in the state to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as first doses were administered. Across California, vaccines will be administered in phases by prioritizing groups according to risk and level of exposure. Initial doses will go to California’s essential health care workers and those among the most vulnerable in long-term care settings.
“This is a moment for hope, and it is also a time to remain vigilant as we face the most intense surge yet,” Newsom said. “While we have prepared for this surge with beds and equipment, staffing shortages are real and impact our medical system.”
At first, vaccines will be provided to health care workers and those in long-term care settings in accordance with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Allocation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine During Phase 1A. This is expected to be followed by essential workers and others at highest risk of becoming infected or severely ill with COVID-19.
“This is a tremendous scientific achievement and a moment of hope for all Californians,” said Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency Dr. Mark Ghaly. “But it is not a moment to let down our guard. COVID-19 is spreading like a wildfire throughout our state and we need to stay home and wear a mask to preserve our health care delivery system until the vaccine is widely available and adopted in our state.”
To review the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and efficacy, California formed a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. Joined by Washington, Oregon and Nevada, the workgroup is comprised of immunization and public health experts. The group worked concurrently and independently to review the F.D.A.’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. This past Sunday, the workgroup confirmed the Pfizer vaccine is safe for public use. They will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines following federal review processes.
Two workgroups are working to ensure the vaccines are distributed equitably: a Drafting Guidelines Workgroup is developing California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccine when supplies are limited, and the Community Advisory Vaccine Committee is providing input and feedback on the planning efforts and resolving barriers to equitable vaccine implementation and decision-making.