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First shipment of COVID-19 vaccines could arrive in Riverside County December 18

The first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines could arrive in Riverside County on Friday, December 18, and local health officials are working with area hospitals to vaccinate thousands of first-line health care workers.

The recently approved vaccine is expected to arrive at several pre-selected hospitals and at Riverside University Health System (RUHS) – Public Heath facilities, where they will be housed until transported to other medical locations.

According to county health officials, the total number of doses for Riverside County – both those transported directly to hospitals and RUHS-Public Health – is between 14,000 and 15,000.

“With so much grim news lately with the pandemic, it is great that we can give the public something so positive that we believe can turn this around,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health. “This is a turning point in the pandemic and we are looking forward to a time in the not-to-distant future when we can vaccinate tens of thousands of our neighbors against this virus.”

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine last week, setting off a massive plan to ship millions of doses throughout the country. Riverside County officials, working with state and federal officials, developed a distribution plan to get the doses to thousands of health care workers under the phased system of allocation.

“The vaccine is a lifesaving breakthrough in the battle against this global pandemic,” said Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair V. Manuel Perez. “It comes at an urgent time, especially for our health care workers who face a worsening situation at hospitals throughout Riverside County and our nation. It is ever more critical that we follow public  health requirements, wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, and avoid unsafe crowds so we can all help each other.”

The allocation of the vaccine will be done through a phase and tier system. The Phase 1-A tier is the first group to be vaccinated and includes healthcare workers at acute care hospitals with “direct patient contact who have potential for direct or indirect exposure.”

“Receiving the first doses of vaccine for our front-line healthcare workers is a day we’ve been looking forward to,” said Vice Chair Karen Spiegel. “As we receive more vaccine in the coming weeks and months, we’ll be able to offer vaccinations to more of our workforce and start to see big movement in recovering from this terrible pandemic.”

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