Naval Medical Center, San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton will begin vaccinating service members this week after receiving the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
Naval Medical Forces Pacific confirmed Sunday Naval Medical Center received the first round of vaccines on Monday and will begin distributing doses on Tuesday. A portion of those will be shipped to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, which will begin distribution on Wednesday, the DOD said.
The doses are not part of San Diego County's 28,000-dose supply, which also arrived Monday and would first be distributed to frontline health care workers.
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.
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, emergency personnel, and support personnel.
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.
Service members will not be required to get the vaccine and it's receipt will be purely on a voluntary bases, the DOD said.
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.