First round of COVID-19 vaccine administered in California

The vaccination effort to combat COVID-19 is now officially underway in California. Governor Gavin Newsom was on hand as some of the first doses were administered. On Monday, the governor said the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, but he said make no mistake, we are still in the proverbial tunnel.

With the push of the plunger on a hypodermic needle, California's vaccination effort against COVID-19 is in effect. A nurse in Southern California, who's on the front lines of the pandemic was among the first in the state to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

"What I want you guys to know is that help is on the way," said Kim Taylor. "Today is just the first step. Soon more vaccines will be distributed to front-line workers and the most vulnerable populations. I also want people to know that the vaccine is safe."

Governor Newsom spoke out, supporting that statement, saying an independent team of medical experts has also reviewed the Pfizer vaccine. 

"The best of the best independently review, put their reputations on the line," said the governor. "The veracity of claims coming from the federal government and certified unanimously of the efficacy and safety of this drug."

The governor was on hand at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center, one of four locations statewide to receive the first batch of an anticipated 327,000 initial doses. Hospitals in San Diego, Eureka, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General also receiving their first doses. Twenty four additional sites are expected to receive the vaccine and begin administering them Tuesday, five more on Wednesday.

The governor said it's an encouraging step, but there's still a long way to go. 

"We are in the midst of the worst moments of this pandemic," said Newsom. "So, today is hopeful, and it's reason to be optimistic. But, let's be mindful of where we really are."

The governor warned that the vaccine arrived even as infection, hospitalization, and intensive care unit rates surge. He urged Californians to continue to wear masks and to maintain physical distance from people not living in their household. 

"The baseline concerns remain that we're seeing a substantial increase in community spread," said Newsom. "We're seeing significant in total numbers of positive cases and more importantly perhaps, the positivity rate spiking all across the state of California."

The governor said the Pfizer vaccine is now in the pipeline with 327,000 doses on the way. He said 672,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with a higher storage temperature, could be on the way to the state within about a week.

That's close to one million doses, set to begin inoculating an estimated 2.4 million health care workers.