As the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive in California, and on the day the U.S. COVID death toll surpassed 300,000 people, Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday launched “Vaccinate All 58,” California’s campaign for safe, fair, and equitable vaccine distribution for all 58 counties in the state.
Newsom joined Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, one of the first locations in the state to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as first doses were administered.
Across California, vaccines will be administered in phases by prioritizing groups according to risk and level of exposure. Initial doses will go to California’s essential health care workers and those among our most vulnerable in long-term care settings.
“Hope is here. As our first doses of vaccine arrive, the promise of ending the pandemic is on the horizon,” Newsom said.
“By taking collective, inclusive action across all 58 counties to get people vaccinated, we can get through to a healthier future for all,” she said. “This is a moment for hope, and it is also a time to remain vigilant as we face the most intense surge yet. While we have prepared for this surge with beds and equipment, staffing shortages are real and impact our medical system. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and I am calling on all Californians to do our part to get us through this – wear a mask, reduce mixing, stay home, stop the spread and save lives. Together we will get through this.”
“This is a tremendous scientific achievement and a moment of hope for all Californians,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “But it is not a moment to let down our guard. COVID-19 is spreading like a wildfire throughout our state and we need to stay home and wear a mask to preserve our health care delivery system until the vaccine is widely available and adopted in our state.”
California is determining its “Vaccinate All 58” distribution guidelines in an open and equitable fashion as initial vaccine supplies will be very limited.
At first, vaccines will be provided to health care workers and those in long-term care settings in accordance with the CDPH Allocation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine During Phase 1A. This is expected to be followed by essential workers and others at highest risk of becoming infected or severely ill with COVID-19.
“In distributing this life-changing vaccine, safety and equity are paramount. It is critical that we provide all Californians with the tools they need to get through this health crisis, from information to the vaccine, and the ‘Vaccinate All 58’ campaign does just that. That is how we get to the other side of this pandemic, and to healthier outcomes for us all,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins.
“What impresses me most about this campaign is the awareness that we must focus on communities that have sometimes been neglected, whether the reasons involve race, language, ethnicity, or something else,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon. “We can succeed only by sharing information with these communities and making them partners in the task of getting California vaccinated. The Legislature looks forward to partnering with community leaders as we spread the word about stopping the spread.”
To accomplish the twin principles of safety and equity, California drew upon the knowledge of many leaders and subject matter experts.
To review the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and efficacy, California formed a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. Joined by Washington, Oregon and Nevada, the Workgroup is comprised of nationally acclaimed immunization and public health experts. The Workgroup worked concurrently and independently to review the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. This past Sunday, the Workgroup confirmed the Pfizer vaccine is safe for public use. They will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines following federal review processes.
Two workgroups are working to ensure the vaccines are distributed equitably: a Drafting Guidelines Workgroup is developing California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccine when supplies are limited, and the Community Advisory Vaccine Committee is providing input and feedback on the planning efforts and resolving barriers to equitable vaccine implementation and decision-making.