FDA approves emergency COVID-19 vaccine in bid to end pandemic

Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 21:53:41-05

PHOENIX — The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic.

Shots will begin in a few days after Friday's decision by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA called the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech safe and strongly protective.

But initial doses are scarce and rationed, with health workers and nursing home residents first in line.

Enough for the general population isn't expected until spring, and experts urge people to mask up and keep their distance during a long, grim winter.

Arizona health officials shared details on their COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan Friday, which includes prioritizing frontline medical workers, and allocating the limited number of doses to different counties based on population.

The first 58,500 doses for Arizona should start arriving as early as December 13 and will be split between Maricopa and Pima County healthcare workers.

Most Arizona counties will not have vaccine doses until the week of December 20. The state expects its second shipment of 189,600 doses that week. At that point, each county and Native American tribe, community, or nation will receive their first doses.

The vaccine requires two separate shots, and people must come back a few weeks later for a booster in order to achieve the desired immunity.

Arizona Department of Health Services says they have been planning this rollout for months. They expect to have a website online in the coming days where people can learn more about where to get a vaccine, when they need to come back for a second dose, and other frequently asked questions.