SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
The Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccine Advisers have voted for health care workers and nursing home residents to be the first groups of people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced 327,000 doses of Pfizer will be coming to California in mid-December, but there are still a lot of questions that remain about where the vaccines will be distributed.
KCRA 3 Investigates has been working to get answers. Below is what we have uncovered.
Where will the vaccines be distributed, and which hospitals will receive the first round?
KCRA 3 Investigates can confirm that 327,000 doses of Pfizer are coming to the state of California, but as for which cities, counties, hospitals, or clinics the first round of vaccines will be distributed to is still being determined. We reached out to all of the county hospitals in the KCRA 3 viewing area and received pretty much the same answer from everyone, that the plan or direction from the state of California changes every single day. As a result, the process is not concrete, but in flux. All health officials can do is prepare, send their plans to the state, and wait to hear back.
The 327,000 doses of Pfizer, is that total vaccinations for people or single shots?
These COVID-19 vaccines require two shots, so the 327,000 number is a one-time dose of Pfizer, which is expected to arrive in mid-December. According to the California Department of Public Health, an additional 327,000 for the second wave will be arriving later in the month.
Will there be enough of the vaccine to go around for everyone in these groups as soon as one is available?
There are more than 327,000 health care workers and nursing home residents in the state of California. As of now, here’s how the state is going to ration out the vaccine in the first phase, according to the California Department of Public Health:
- Possible tiered approach.
- First tier might include hospitals, congregate care settings and EMS personnel.
- Second tier might include primary care clinics, home health, community health workers, and public health staff.
- Third tier might include other facilities.
Who will be helping distribute the Pfizer vaccine?
We know the National Guard has been called upon in other states to help distribute the vaccines once they become available. With that in mind, we reached out to the California National Guard first. The Public Information Officer told KCRA 3 that Cal Guard hasn’t been called upon yet, but if it is called upon to assist, it would be assigned a mission from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services or the California Department of Health and Human Services.
We also reached out to Los Angeles International Airport and Sacramento International Airport. A spokesperson for LAX referred us to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A spokesperson from Sacramento International Airport said there’s no confirmation on the distribution process yet. We reached out to the United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service, and FedEx. The only business that responded with a statement was FedEx:
As healthcare companies develop and prepare to distribute vaccines against COVID-19, we recognize that shipping COVID-19 vaccines is complex and critical work with many moving parts. FedEx is working closely with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Dept. of Defense (DoD), and our healthcare customers on vaccine distribution plans as a part of HHS’ Operation Warp Speed. We are confident in our strong relationships with our healthcare distribution customers as we work through the preparation and prioritization of these deliveries.
The FedEx network is well positioned to handle these shipments with our temperature-control solutions, real-time monitoring capabilities and a dedicated healthcare team to support the customs brokerage and express transportation of vaccines and bioscience shipments around the world. Our healthcare team is well-versed in the transportation and handling of vaccine shipments. For more than a decade we have shipped flu vaccines each flu season.
With the largest cargo fleet of airplanes, FedEx Express has the flexibility and customized solutions, including charter flights, refrigerator trucks and trailers, warehousing, thermal blankets, and temperature-controlled containers, to help safely move temperature sensitive shipments, such as vaccines and other bioscience shipments, around the world.
Over the past three years, we have added more than 10 secure cold chain facilities across our global network. At present we have more than 90 cold chain facilities across the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe and plan to open additional facilities in coming years. To complement our existing cold chain capabilities in support of the vaccine distribution, we have added ultra-cold freezers, and enhanced our freezer and refrigerator capacity at strategic locations throughout the country over the past several months.
Working with the FAA, FedEx has significantly increased our capability to carry dry ice aboard our cargo aircraft, allowing us to service more healthcare shippers. On average, we now transport approximately 500,000 dry ice shipments a month.
In addition to the vaccines themselves, FedEx is also working closely with the healthcare industry to transport other supplies critical to the distribution of vaccines such as vials, syringes, and personal protective equipment.