THE Pfizer Covid vaccine is set to start being administered in the US today, as new data suggests 15 percent of Americans have now been infected with the virus.
President Donald Trump announced that he expects the first vaccines to be given out on Saturday – and that they had already begun shipping to states – after Pfizer's vaccine received emergency approval on Friday.
The positive news comes as the US hit another grim milestone in new cases – 232,105 new cases on Friday and a record high 108,044 Covid-related hospitalizations.
"The first vaccine will be administered in less than 24 hours," Trump said during his Friday evening announcement.
"The governors decide where the vaccines will go in their state, and who will get them first. We want out senior citizens, health care workers and first responders to be first in line," he added.
New data also suggested that 15 percent of Americans have now been infected with the virus, according to a model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
IHME's model, in a Friday report, also predicted that around half a million Americans will die from the virus by April.
It also predicted that daily fatalities could peak – around 4,000 a day – in mid-January if states do not continue Covid safety measures like social distances and mask mandates.
Many experts have noted that safety measures will need to continue even after vaccines start being administered to the country's most vulnerable.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer's Covid vaccine for emergency use a day after a panel of scientists and medical experts gave the jab the OK.
The initial shipment of 2.9million doses will be sent around the US over the next week, people with knowledge of the decision told the New York Times.
A similar amount will be held in reserve to give those recipients their second dose.
Recipients must get two doses of the vaccine for it to be most effective, and the shots must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures.
Health care workers and nursing home residents will reportedly be the first to receive the vaccines.
Authorities do not expect to have enough to vaccinate everyone in the general public who wishes to get the shot before spring.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, speaking to Fox News on Friday before the vaccine was approved, said that the shots will start going out to locations specified by each state.
"Within the next couple of days, it ought to come out and we'll start having Pfizer ship that vaccine to where governors have told us," Azar said.
"It's quite realistic by end of February into March" that governors would ramp up their 'general vaccination efforts.'"
Azar explained that this meant people could go to "your Kroger, your CVS, your Walgreens" and get the coronavirus shot "very much like you get your flu vaccine."
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