SD County's 1st COVID-19 Vaccines Given at Naval Medical Center, Rady Children's Hospital

Rolling out the vaccine in San Diego and beyond will come as a three-phase process created by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Prevention

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What to Know

  • Naval Medical Center and Rady Children's Hospital have administered the first COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego County on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
  • The Balboa Park-based hospital will distribute a portion of its doses to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, which will begin to roll out the vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16
  • The military's doses are not part of San Diego County's 28,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine arriving this week

After months of research and a roller coaster ride of a pandemic, the first COVID-19 vaccinations in San Diego County were scheduled to be administered Tuesday at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital.

The very first San Diego County resident, non-military, in line to receive the vaccine was 27-year-old emergency room nurse Brittanee Randle, who has been employed by Rady Children's Hospital for two years.

"It was great!" Randle said. "The person administering it was awesome. I'm actually afraid of needles and I didn't even feel it."

Brittanee Randle made history in San Diego as the first non-military resident to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Randle said she knew the ability to get vaccinated was a privilege and looked at it as a step toward the beginning of the end in the fight against COVID-19.

"I didn't know I was going to be the first one, but I'm very excited," Randle said. "I'm hoping that we can be hopefully the first of getting everybody vaccinated and we can actually enjoy each other's company sooner rather than later."

Frontline medical workers will be the first community to be given Pfizer's new vaccine as part of a plan created by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Prevention. The military hospital received an unspecified number of vaccinations that will go to essential mission personnel – like firefighters, EMS and gate personnel – once health care workers receive their first dose.

Among the San Diego's military community, which received their own batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week, Lt. Catherine Senoyuit was the first to receive a shot on Tuesday.

"I believe that we are on the front line and we also have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the nation," said the U.S. Navy Registered Nurse, who works in Naval Medical Center San Diego's emergency department. "We are in here every day working with these patients and I feel as though me being able to give myself immunity, will ultimately give the patients that security."

Like Randle, Senoyuit also thought the vaccine was pretty painless.

"I actually feel like that is the least painful vaccination I’ve gotten in my entire life was really easy. I had an awesome corpsman who gave me my shot," she said.

"I felt humbled to be part of what I perceive to be a historic moment."

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine comes in two doses that were determined to be 94% effective in preventing infection.

The doses that Naval Medical Center received are not a part of the county’s 28,000-dose supply. A portion of the Balboa Park-based hospital’s doses will be shipped to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, which will begin distributing them on Wednesday.

NBC 7's Bridget Naso has more on how the first COVID-19 vaccines were used in San Diego.

Active and reserve service members will be able to receive the vaccine voluntarily in the coming days. They are not required to get the shots.

San Diego County is expected to administer the vaccine to health care workers once the region receives its shipment of the 28,000-dose supply over the next couple of days, according to public health officials.

Rady Children’s Hospital, which was selected to store COVID-19 vaccines, is expecting its first shipment of the new vaccinations.

Administering the vaccine to the public will be a three-phase process in which health care workers and long-term care workers and residents will be given priority, followed by essential workers, then adults who are over the age of 65 or who have medical conditions.

In Phase 2 of the vaccine roll out, critical workers not included in Phase 1 will be eligible for the vaccine, as well as children and young adults under the age of 30. Phase 3 includes everyone else in the U.S.

Side effects may include swelling, fatigue, irritation, pain or headache. Some patients who have taken the vaccine reported chills and low-grade fever, according to former FDA chief Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

Vaccine doses bought with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be free to Americans, according to the CDC. However, vaccination providers could charge an administration fee if they chose to.

Where in San Diego Are the First Doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine Going?

What to Know

  • Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton are the first sites to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego County.
  • UC San Diego Health is also preparing to receive the vaccine.
  • Rady Children's Hospital has been tapped as a storage site for the COVID-19 vaccine due to its highly secure, ultra-low-temperature freezer storage capacity.

In addition to the doses received at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Rady Children’s Hospital also received the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Tuesday.

The facility in San Diego’s Kearny Mesa area had been tapped earlier this month by the California Department of Public Health to serve as a site to store COVID-19.

Rady Children’s Hospital is equipped with highly secure, sub-zero temperature freezer storage capacity – perfect for housing the vaccine.

The doses arrived at the hospital Tuesday morning, packed in dry ice.

Rady Children’s Hospital planned to start vaccinating critical care health care workers Tuesday afternoon.

About half of the county’s 28,000 doses expected this week arrived on Tuesday. Approximately 2,000 of those doses were received at Rady Children’s, while 2,925 doses headed to UC San Diego Medical Center.

Each of the county’s health care systems has put in their requests for the vaccine based on their needs.

As of Tuesday, the vaccine doses are scheduled to be administered as followed:


  • Rady Children’s Hospital
  • Naval Medical Center San Diego


  • UC San Diego Health
  • Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton
  • Kaiser Permanente, Grantville location


  • Kaiser Permanente, Kearny Mesa location
  • Scripps Health

Dr. Davey Smith, MD, MAS/Head of Infectious Disease at UC San Diego, told NBC 7 Monday that he would be one of the first frontline health care workers to be given the vaccine in San Diego.

He was ready.

“I’m super hopeful,” Smith told NBC 7.  “It’s like the end of the beginning of all of this mess, right?”

“My arm is ready. I’m ready,” he added.

Dr. Davey Smith is hopeful at what the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine means for the future of the fight for the pandemic. On Tuesday, he will be among the first in San Diego County to receive a dose of the vaccine. But, he adds, it doesn’t mean the fight is over.

Smith said the vaccine will add “another level of security and confidence” in San Diego’s healthcare system and, in his words, “hopefully reinvigorate us.”

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