A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen ahead of being administered at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 8, 2020. Liam McBurney/Pool via REUTERS

The Naval Medical Center in San Diego and the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton should receive doses of the first coronavirus vaccine this week, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

Doses of the Pfizer vaccine began shipping out from a Michigan facility Sunday bound for Southern California distribution centers and other locations in the United States.

San Diego military officials could not be reached for comment on the exact timing of the vaccine’s arrival at the two naval hospitals.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control signed off on the recommendation of an advisory committee Sunday, officially permitting the vaccine to be administered in the United States. It is said to be 95% effective in preventing the coronavirus.

Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed told reporters Saturday that UPS and FedEx would be delivering the vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the country.

The Defense Department is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC on the distribution.

The U.S. government has allocated vaccines to 64 jurisdictions, and the DOD plans to administer its initial allocation of 43,875 doses to populations of uniformed service members — both actives and reserves. That includes members of the National Guard, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select contract personnel.

The department is prioritizing DOD personnel to receive the vaccine based on CDC guidance, first focusing on those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential national security and installation functions, deploying forces, and those beneficiaries at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19 before other members of the DOD population.

Distribution will be conducted in phases. Due to limited availability of initial vaccine doses, the first phase will distribute and administer vaccines at select locations.

Initial distribution sites — including the two San Diego sites — were selected by the DOD’s COVID Task Force based on recommendations from the military services and U.S. Coast Guard, to best support several criteria:

  • Anticipated supply chain requirements, such as cold and bulk storage facilities;
  • Local population of at least 1,000 priority personnel across the military services; and
  • Sufficient medical personnel to administer vaccines and actively monitor vaccine recipients.

— City News Service

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