California's First Wave of Coronavirus Vaccine Will Include 2 Million Doses

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said the state is now likely getting more than 2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine before the year ends, which would be enough to vaccinate a million people.

The update is welcome news to experts and health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, many of which are preparing for the worst. In Richmond's Craneway Pavillion for example, a makeshift hospital is being set up in case area hospitals run out of critical beds as predicted due to surging coronavirus cases in the next few weeks.

NBC Bay Area
A breakdown of ICU beds available per region in California as of Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.

The governor said the state is getting its original order of vaccines from Pfizer -- about 327,000 -- as early as next week. The state will add in enough from Moderna and other vaccine makers to likely give the needed two doses to about half of the state's 2.4 million healthcare workers in the first wave of vaccinations.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Doming, the chair of UCSF's Epidemiology Department, said the announcement offers new hope to those trying not to burn out on the front lines.

"And it's coming at a time when hospitals are seeing this massive surge, when healthcare workers have been on the front lines, and dealing with this pandemic for such a long time," Bibbins-Domingo said.

Bibbins-Domingo said the number of vaccinations could help address the high exposure and infection rate among the state's front line medical professionals, and that means fewer first responders lost to illness or quarantine.

"This large volume means that we are unlikely to have to triage among healthcare workers, which is about 2 million in California," Bibbins-Domingo said.

After health workers, long-term care facility residents and staff will be next in line.

Newsom said he will have more details on exactly who will this first round of vaccines on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the work at overflow COVID sites continue as counties make room for the bed capacity they think we could need to address a coming holiday surge in hospitalizations.

NBC Bay Area
A look at ICU bed availability in the Bay Area by county as of Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.
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