What you need to know about how SoCal hospitals are preparing to receive, distribute COVID-19 vaccine

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Following the FDA informing Pfizer it intends "to proceed towards an authorization" of the manufacturer's COVID-19 vaccine, hospitals across the country -- including in Southern California -- prepare to receive the first round of doses amid a worsening health crisis.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is expected to receive the first shipment of the vaccine as early as next week.

The hospital was chosen due to its ability to store the vaccine in ultra-cold temperatures. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit). Cedar-Sinai says it can store an estimated 150,000 vials of the vaccine in its cold-storage freezers.

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Azar says the FDA told Pfizer they will approve their vaccine.

Dr. Rita Shane, chief pharmacy officer at Cedars-Sinai. said the vaccine will move from the freezer to a refrigerator, where it can stay for up to five days. Once out of the refrigerator, the vaccine has to be used within six hours.

"There are five doses in each vial. The nurses will then remove each dose and administer to our healthcare workers, and ultimately to our consumers, patients and everyone else," Shane said.

Based on California's population, the state will receive 327,000 doses under the FDA's emergency use authorization.

Officials at Cedars-Sinai say frontline workers, including those at other hospitals in the area, will be among the first to get vaccinated.

'This is really one of the most exciting things we've seen. A number of people have been anticipating the ability to finally get this vaccine, and given the information that we've gotten to demonstrate that it is effective and that it could make a huge difference in how we can see a light at the end of this pandemic, hopefully," Shane said.

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As Los Angeles County reported 12,819 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, breaking its daily record since the start of the pandemic, public health officials rolled out their plan for how vaccines will be distributed once available.

L.A. County is set to receive 87,000 of the vaccine, which the Public Health Department says will be strictly designated for healthcare workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

"They come in a powder so the manufacturer provides us with the liquid to dilute or reconstitute that powder which essential renders it into a liquid," Shane said.

A total of nine hospitals in Southern California have been selected to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
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