On Monday, Governor Newsom announced that COVID-19 vaccine dispersal in California will be limited once the vaccines become available either later this year or next year.
Newsom said that Moderna and Pfizer were closing in on vaccines, with the earliest the earliest availability coming in November or December. However, the Governor reiterated that, no matter the timeline, it would take time for a large rollout to occur within the state.
“The bottom line is the first phases of the vaccine will be limited in terms of availability,” said the Governor on Monday. “In the best case scenario, those two companies will have a combined total of 45 million doses for the whole country by the end of the year.”
The Governor added that the vaccines will require two doses to be effective, making the real amount of vaccines initially available, of only 22.5 million nationwide. Then the vaccines would be distributed around the country. Newsom noted that California would only likely receive between 1.5 million and 2 million initial vaccine doses.
“We have more people in our healthcare delivery system than that,” continued Governor Newsom. “Healthcare workers and first responders will be among those prioritized to receive the vaccine, as will other essential workers, those in skilled nursing facilities, incarcerated people, the elderly, and racial minorities.
“Don’t anticipate or expect you can go down to the local pharmacy and get your vaccination anytime in this calendar year. We don’t expect mass availability until 2021. The question for all of us is: Is it going to be the first, second or third quarter?”
Health experts responses, new theme park reopening guidelines
Many health experts had mixed responses to the Governor’s plan on Monday.
“I do agree that California would likely only initially get a few million vaccines,” said Stuart Schaeffer, a sourcing specialist for several hospitals in central California. “We’ve seen that kind of slow rollout before with other new vaccines, but that was on a much smaller scale.
“And I do agree that a vaccine won’t be widespread until next year. Obviously we want it as soon as possible, but we need to make sure it really, really works too.
“However, the way he wants to ration out initial vaccines is flawed. Healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers who have to face high risk of exposure or have the potential to spread it to vulnerable people each day should get it. What the Governor is doing is focusing on vulnerable people as well, but that can be an issue. If people in prison get it first, you’re going to see a huge outcry from people asking why the criminal deserves it rather than their mom or dad or spouse. It wouldn’t bode well for Newsom or the state.
“And elderly and the minorities. They both do face higher than normal exposure rates, but they also need to take the proper precautions. That means masks and other ways to protect themselves. I’ve been in charge of vaccine shipments before, especially flu shots. While giving elderly better access is benign and does help in the long run, favoring different races is a whole different thing. This was suggested with a limited flu shot shipment a few years ago at a hospital I used to work for. When some doctor said they should focus on giving minorities shots, lawyers screaming about it being unconstitutional were all over the hospital in a matter of hours.
“That likely would happen again this time around again if Governor Newsom sticks with his overall plan.”
In addition to the vaccine news, the Governor also noted that theme park and team sport guidelines would be coming out tomorrow.
The announcement, which would come after months of the theme park industry begging to reopen and Newsom subsequently refusing to issue any new guidelines, was hinted by Newsom to follow a more staggered type of reopening.
“We are going to break up the theme parks,” said the Governor on Monday. “Not just one or two brands, it is many different parts of the theme park industry.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is expected to release the new guidelines during a press conference tomorrow.