ALAMEDA, Calif. - The U.S. Coast Guard base in Alameda is one of 16 bases that will receive some of the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine, officials with the U.S. Department of Defense said this week.
The Alameda base was chosen as one of the 16 for its large cold-storage, which is required for the vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and because it has an on-site immunization health specialist.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine Friday night, clearing the way for the DOD to receive nearly 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as next week.
Those doses will then be doled out to the 16 bases on a pilot basis. The department will monitor how many people at each base choose to get vaccinated to determine how many doses they will need in the future.
Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas McCaffery said the department will prioritize who gets the first doses based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an assessment from the department's coronavirus task force.
"The DOD prioritization plan is consistent with CDC guidance and prioritizes health care providers and support personnel, residents and staff of DOD long-term care facilities, other essential workers and high-risk beneficiaries to receive the vaccine before other members of the healthy DOD population," McCaffery said Wednesday during a briefing on the vaccine distribution plan.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, the director of the Defense Health Agency, said the DOD has decades of experience conducting global vaccine programs.
"Whether it's the annual flu campaigns or protection against novel diseases around the world, we vaccinate millions of our service members and families and retirees of every age every year, and we have systems in place to monitor the health of everyone who receives a vaccine," Place said.
California is expected to receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as next week, with vaccinations beginning for health care workers and nursing home residents first.
In addition, California is expecting to receive nearly 700,000 doses of the vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna by the end of the month.
Some Bay Area legislators, doctors and education advocates have also lobbied the state to include teachers among those who will have access to the vaccine after health care workers and those in nursing homes.
Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom, said the state has yet to rule out that idea.
Educators are not currently in the first three tiers of the state's vaccine prioritization plan.
"We are committed to examine every avenue to safely reopen them for in-person instruction, including designation of their employees as essential workers in the next distribution guidelines for the vaccine," Melgar said in a statement.