California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday under the best-case scenario, an extremely limited supply of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration will be available by November or December, countering President Donald Trump’s repeated assurance to the American people that a vaccine could be widely available before the year’s end.
Newsom expects California to receive 1 to 2 million doses in the first vaccine delivery, and this would be the amount needed to inoculate people working in the health care system.
A major inoculation effort — where anyone could go to their local pharmacy for a vaccine — is highly unlikely until next year, he said.
“It is simply unrealistic,” said Newsom. “We don’t anticipate mass availability until 2021.”
The governor said the big question now is whether vaccines will be widely available in the first, second or third quarter of 2021.
Newsom also announced at his regular Monday press briefing the state has created a task force made up of 11 scientists to conduct an independent medical review of the safety of any FDA-approved vaccine before administering it to Californians.
“We don’t take anyone’s word for it,” said Newsom, noting that experts on the review committee hail from top universities such as UC Berkeley and Stanford.
The state is 1 of 5 jurisdictions to submit an advance plan for vaccine distribution and as a result received $29 million from the federal government, the governor said. Under the state plan, the first phase of vaccine distribution would prioritize high-risk individuals including health care workers, seniors age 65-plus and long-term care, essential workers, those with disabilities, racial and ethnic minority groups, rural populations and incarcerated and detained individuals.
The state is also preparing to procure and distribute vaccine supplies such as syringes, alcohol pads and bandages. Other pieces of the plan look at vaccine storage that requires cold conditions, data management and public education.