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Nationwide shipping has started for the second COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. government, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held an important vote as to who should receive the vaccine following healthcare workers.
Cameras on Sunday showed crews loading boxes containing Moderna’s vaccine, a shipping priority this holiday season.
The vaccine, which received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration is being shipped out hours after CDC Director Robert Redfield signed off on it. That means it can now officially start being administered to Americans 18 and older.
“It’s safe, it will induce a much higher immunal response, and it will insure, in case natural infection doesn’t induce long-lasting protection, it will allow to have a better protection,” said Dr. Moncef Slaoui with Operation Warp Speed.
FedEx and UPS trucks picked up the precious cargo in Olive Branch, Mississippi and got it ready to be delivered across the country.
“This is going to be the most technically, logistically difficult vaccination project of all time,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.
The first people to receive the vaccine will continue to be residents of long-term care facilities and frontline healthcare workers, just like the Pfizer vaccine.
But on Sunday, a CDC advisory committee also voted on the order of who will be next in line. Phase 1B includes people 75 or older and frontline essential workers. Phase 1C includes people between 65 and 74, those with pre-existing conditions and other essential workers.
“We are very hopeful that by January we’ll have at least three vaccines,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Experts expect to have close to 100 million doses distributed by February.
“Twenty million vaccine doses distributed at least by the first week of January, approximately another 30 million in January and another 50 million in February, not counting the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine,” said Giroir.
The latest developments come as the number of cases climb across the country. In South Florida, new infections remain high as well.
The Florida Department of Health reporting about 8,400 new cases and 95 deaths across the Sunshine State on sunday.
The positivity rate stands at 7.89% across Florida, 8.15% in Miami-Dade County, 6.9% in Broward and 2.71% in Monroe.
“The American people should remain hopeful about the vaccine, but we also need to remain vigilant,” said Adams.
Since the vaccines aren’t widely available yet, and the holidays are quickly approaching, officials warn people not to let their guards down.
“The safest way to spend the holidays this year is with the immediate members of your household,” said Adams.
“Nobody wants to modify, if not essentially shut down, their holiday season, but we are in a critical time in this country right now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The Moderna vaccines are expected to start being administered as early as Monday.
The CDC advises anyone with known allergies to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines not to get a shot.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.