The first doses of an FDA-authorized Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, less than a year after the disease was first detected in the United States, authorities said Monday.
Operation Warp Speed, a public-private effort, developed the Pfizer vaccine in less than a year, a surprising feat since most vaccines take years to develop. Delivery was also fast: shipping companies FedEx and UPS began transportation on Sunday and completed all vaccine deliveries on the first day.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams called the deployment of the vaccine ” tremendous.”
“This is just tremendous and I’m smiling more than I’ve smiled in a long time because it’s been a tough year for so many people, including me personally,”
The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine were injected on Monday to health workers, those who are on the front lines of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans die from the virus every day. On Monday afternoon, the national death toll from coronavirus-related reasons topped 300,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The United States also recorded 110,549 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
And rates of new infections and deaths are accelerating to unprecedented rates, which means Americans need to stoop this winter before rolling up their sleeves.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of allergies and Infectious Diseases, warned that Americans should not think that the arrival of a vaccine means the end of the pandemic.
“I don’t think we can throw off the masks and forget about physical separation in congregation settings for a while, probably until late fall and early next winter,” he said during a center for Strategic and International Studies virtual health event. “But I think we can do it.”
Who is getting the first covid-19 vaccines?
A critical care nurse was the first person in New York and one of the first people in the country to receive a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens received the injection at 9: 20 a.m. ET on Monday. He said the vaccine felt no different than any other vaccine.”I feel good. I would like to thank all the front-line workers and all my colleagues … doing their job during this pandemic around the world,” he said.
“Today I feel hopeful, relieved. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful moment.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently authorized the vaccine for emergency use, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allowed it to be given to people over the age of 16.
“We expect 145 sites in all states to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, which will complete the initial delivery of Pfizer vaccine orders,” said Gustave Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed.
The next Covid-19 vaccine under consideration for emergency use authorization is Moderna’s candidate and, if authorized, the United States plans to send around 6 million doses nationwide in initial shipments, Perna said.
Each person receiving the Pfizer and modern vaccine needs two doses, and it depends on the states allocate their share of vaccines.
But the CDC has recommended that health workers and residents of long-term care centers get the vaccine first.
“This is a humiliating moment,” the doctor said after the vaccination
Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia was publicly vaccinated to show his faith in the vaccine.
“I want everyone to know that I think it’s good to go,” Justice, 69, said before taking her photo.
In Florida, the vaccine arrived Monday at Broward Memorial and UF Shands in Jacksonville, governor Ron DeSantis said. On Tuesday, Jackson Memorial in Miami and Advent Health in Orlando will receive shipments. DeSantis says the state of Florida anticipates having all 100,000 doses of the vaccine for all five hospitals by tomorrow morning.
Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida School of Medicine in Jacksonville, is believed to be the first person in Florida to get vaccinated. He was followed by other health workers.
“This is a humiliating moment,” Haley said. “I would like to express my deep appreciation on behalf of all of our frontline caregivers, here and around the world, for their resilience and heroism.”
The vaccine came as Florida became the fourth state in the nation to surpass 20,000 coronavirus-related deaths, joining New York, Texas and California.
Four hospitals in California received a total of 33,150 doses of Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced, minutes after some of the first health workers in the state were vaccinated at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel,” Newsom said, as the state continues to battle its worst increase in infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
Monday’s shipments were sent to hospitals in Los Angeles, San Diego and Northern California. On Tuesday, 24 additional sites are expected to receive vaccine shipments, and five more sites will receive the doses on Wednesday, Newsom elaborated.
Steve Sisolak extended Covid-19 restrictions until January 15, saying the state is still seeing the consequences of a Thanksgiving-induced Covid-19 surge.
“We are at a critical point,” Sisolak said Sunday. “We will be monitoring and evaluating our current situation day by day and week by week will remain under the current restrictions for now, with the aim of overcoming next month.”
While he did not say exactly when the vaccinations would begin, Sisolak said there are plans to distribute the first assignment to front-line health care workers and staff and residents in nursing facilities for “immediate vaccination.””
In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee said public vaccinations in his state are expected to begin Tuesday.
62,000 starting doses will be distributed to 40 facilities and 29 counties, said Michele Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary of The Washington Department of Health.
Since the number of vaccines available will be limited by months, and since each person needs two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, officials say wearing masks is as important now as it was last week.
“I want to be clear, this doesn’t change the importance of our safety precautions,” Inslee said.
“Masking, physical distancing and limiting interactions are as important tomorrow as yesterday.”
The effectiveness of the vaccine “will be gradual,” Fauci says
The vaccine will have no instant effects, according to Fauci.
level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is now that we can gradually start tiptoeing towards normal.”
Fauci was asked how long it can take to get to the point where the nation has clarity on things like how much immunity vaccines will confer, how long it will last, whether vaccines will prevent infection, and whether vaccination blocks a person from transmitting the virus to others.
“I think we’ll probably know, if the vaccine rollout works the way I hope it does, that we get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated in this country by the end of the second trimester,” he said. “And we have that veil of protective immunity, we must know … By the end of 2021, as we move forward into 2022, what is the durability and whether or not we are dealing with something that needs to be pushed back every year.”
How many doses are coming?
About 2.9 million doses of the vaccine have been received or will be received nationwide this week. That’s enough to start vaccinating 1.45 million people.
“We’re going to have enough for 20 million people to get vaccinated by the end of December and then, as I think I mentioned, enough for up to 50 million in total by the end of January,”
“As we move forward in February, we expect to have not only modern vaccines and Pfizer, but Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, AstraZeneca, potentially, which will increase the supply even more.”
Azar said he wants to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as he can.
“I want to get vaccinated as soon as possible and I want to do it on television, because I want the American people to see my full confidence in the integrity of the system,” he said. “I want you to see that I wouldn’t ask you to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.”