First shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive in Southern California

Monday, December 14, 2020
1st COVID-19 vaccine shipments land at LAX
A FedEx plane carrying the first shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine landed at LAX Sunday night.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the first shipments of Pfizer's authorized COVID-19 vaccine ship out from Michigan, about 83,000 doses are expected to arrive in Los Angeles County this week.

A FedEx plane carrying the region's first shipments landed at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday night, according to the airport.

"The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Los Angeles at LAX," the airport tweeted. "This is a major milestone for science, our country and our community. Thank you to all those who made this delivery possible, and are part of the incredible effort to distribute vaccines around the world."

The first shipments left Pfizer's plant in Michigan this weekend, to be transported via FedEx and UPS to 145 locations around the country on Monday. Then another 425 locations will receive shipments on Tuesday.

In Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai medical center says it expects to receive its first vaccine doses on Tuesday. UCLA Health expects to be administering doses by Wednesday.

Health care workers are expected to be the first to receive the vaccine, which is administered in two doses three weeks apart.

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"We're talking about individuals who have repeated and consistent contact with COVID-19 in patients, as well as with those who are suspected of having COVID-19," said Dr. Robert Cherry, chief medical and quality control officer with UCLA Health. "We want to make sure we prioritize the supply of vaccine for those clinical providers."

Health professionals, however, stressed that these vaccinations will not alleviate the current surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurring across the state.

"Even if we had all the doses today, we're already in the middle of a surge so it's going to continue to happen and, you know, we don't have the capacity to vaccinate everybody today so the best hope, quite honestly, is that people wear their masks and social distance," said Dr. Isabel Pedraza with Cedars-Sinai.

California overall expects to get 327,000 doses in the first batch.

Along with health care workers, the Department of Defense says military bases in Alameda and San Diego will also be among the first to receive the vaccine.

Residents of long-term health-care facilities are also expected to be among the first to get vaccinated across the country.

An exact timeline for the general public to receive the vaccine has not been specified, but it is expected to be well into 2021.