A truck backs into the loading dock of the Pfizer Global Supply manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The first shipments of Pfizer‘s COVID-19 vaccine left a factory in Michigan early Sunday on a convoy of trucks, kicking off a historic effort to stop a surging pandemic that is claiming more than 2,400 lives a day in the United States.

Mask-wearing workers began packing the first shipments in dry ice shortly after 3:30 a.m. Pacific time. Three trucks carrying pallets of boxed, refrigerated vaccines rolled away from the facility at 5:29 a.m., escorted by body armor-clad security officers.

San Diego County is expected to get 28,000 doses on Monday, and a second shipment three weeks later. Local distribution will begin at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and proceed in the following phases:

Phase 1

This phase covers those most likely to contract COVID-19 and most susceptible to serious complications. Distribution will take place in three sub-phases:

  • Phase 1A: Critical care health workers and both residents and employees in long-term-care facilities.
  • Phase 1B: Essential workers in education, food, agriculture, law enforcement and transportation.
  • Phase 1C: Adults with underlying medical conditions and those over the age of 65.

Phase 2

Children and young adults under the age of 30 and critical workers not included in the first phase

Phase 3

People of all ages who live in the United States.

Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said Sunday the United States expects to immunize 100 million people, or about 30% of the population, by the end of March.

He said he expects 40 million doses of vaccine to be distributed by the end of December, including the just-authorized vaccine from Pfizer and one from Moderna expected to get a similar emergency use authorization later this week.

The CDC anticipates that by June of 2021, everyone wanting to get vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to do so.

The Pfizer vaccine is administered via two shots in the arm and research has shown that it’s about 95% effective.

The vaccine is safe, but about 10% to 15% of people may have some side effects such as fever, fatigue, headache and muscle pain. These symptoms should go away on their own after a couple of days.

Updated at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.