• By The Financial District


More than 325,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to California on Sunday, amid record-setting case numbers and shrinking intensive care unit capacity, according to KCRA 3 News.

The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine left Michigan early Sunday for 145 distribution centers nationwide. States will get vaccines based on their adult population and additional shipments are coming this week.

The vaccine is heading to hospitals and other sites across the country that can store it at extremely low temperatures — about 94 degrees below zero. Pfizer is using containers with dry ice and GPS-enabled sensors to ensure each shipment stays colder than the weather in Antarctica.

In California — where on Saturday there was another record day of new confirmed COVID-19 cases — counties will have specific allotments that will be distributed to hospitals determined by state health officials to have adequate storage capacity, serve a high-risk health care population and have the ability to vaccinate people quickly. Priority will be to inoculate health care workers on the front lines of a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people and claimed nearly 298,000 lives in the U.S. alone.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday that a group of medical experts convened by Western states had confirmed the vaccine safe for public use and that shipments were "on the way."

“Our Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has worked concurrently with the federal process to review and assess available data, and examine the federal review processes regarding the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine," Newsom said in a statement. "This morning, the Workgroup recommended the Pfizer vaccine as safe for public use. With shipments of the vaccine soon on their way to California, we are working hand-in-hand with local public health officials to get the vaccine out to the first phase of recipients. Their work will continue as data becomes available on other potential vaccines."

Washington, Oregon and Nevada had also joined the safety panel in October.

The vaccines are coming as the situation grows more dire by the day nationwide and in California, with the holiday season well underway. Public health officials are afraid the already surging infection rates and hospitalizations will continue to climb as people ignore precautions to gather for the holidays.

On Saturday, the number of available ICU beds in San Joaquin Valley plummeted to zero for the first time and San Francisco reported 323 new cases, the highest since the pandemic began. Millions of Californians in the majority of the state are under stay-at-home orders.