'We have two vaccines': Bay Area hospitals on standby for 1st Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shipments

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- New hope as the Moderna vaccine, the latest authorized for use by the FDA is now headed across the country for distribution. Bay Area hospitals and counties are getting ready for the new vaccine shipments.

Distribution of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine began early Sunday morning, just two days after receiving emergency authorization by the FDA. Pharmaceutical distributor McKesson is preparing the vaccine for shipment, packing it in freezers and loading it onto trucks under the eyes of law enforcement.

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"This vaccine is 95% effective, as much as 100% effective at preventing severe disease. This is the way we end the pandemic by getting 70 or 80% of Americans vaccinated," said Admiral Brett Giroir from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Moderna's rollout means the country now has two vaccines in its arsenal to fight the pandemic.

"We're expecting 3,100 doses of Moderna vaccine in Marin tomorrow morning," said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.

Willis says those doses come just in time, the county's first Pfizer vaccine allotment has already run out.

"Our goal is not store any of them and get it into the arms of our hospital workers, EMT's and paramedics as quickly as we can," said Willis.

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UCSF is also expecting its Moderna vaccine doses any day.

"If we just had the Pfizer vaccine we'd be elated, we have two vaccines," said UCSF Professor of Epidemiology Dr. George Rutherford.

When both vaccines are available to the general public, Jon Jacobo, Health committee chairman from the Latino Task Force in San Francisco hopes it comes with information and outreach to medically underserved communities.

"To ensure they're answering all the questions people have in culturally competent ways, how to connect with folks, addressing any concerns they have around the vaccine," said Jacobo.

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Dr. Rutherford says the vaccine means hope for the future.

"As one of my colleagues said, there's light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time it's not a train coming at you," he said.

The target date has been late spring for the general public to get its coronavirus vaccine. But President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for U.S. Surgeon General says factoring in possible delays, it's more realistic to think it may be mid-summer to early fall before that happens.

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