Newsom Says State Is Looking to Speed COVID Vaccine Administrations

Newsom Says State Is Looking to Speed COVID Vaccine Administrations
Syringes to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a nursing home in Burgbernheim, Germany, on Dec. 28, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is working to accelerate the administration of COVID-19 vaccines across the state, including expanding the number of distribution sites and the types of people who can give the shots.

Newsom said the state has received nearly 1.3 million doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and another 611,500 doses have been shipped.

As of Jan. 3, a total of 454,306 doses had actually been administered.

"We are working aggressively to accelerate our pace," Newsom said on Jan. 4. "We're going to start seeing more rapid distribution of vaccines, I can assure you of that. That said, it's gone too slowly, I know, for many of us. All of us, I think, we want to see 100 percent of what's received immediately administered in people's arms.

"So that's a challenge, a challenge across this country. It's a challenge for that matter around the world, but that's not an excuse."

Newsom said the state is working to increase the number of sites where shots can be administered and the people who can give them, including dentists, pharmacy technicians and members of the National Guard.

He said he's heard "anecdotal evidence" about frontline health care workers—the top priority for receiving the shots—declining to be vaccinated, but he had no specific numbers. He said the state is conducting a survey to get a better idea of the number.

The state's vaccine task force is still working to set priorities of who will be first in line during upcoming phases of the distribution system. The state is still in the first phase of distribution, covering health care and frontline workers.

"We've got work to do on this," he said. "Obviously as we move into January, we want to see things accelerate, and we want to see things go much faster."

Meanwhile, Newsom said there are now six confirmed cases in the state of a new COVID-19 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom. The new strain of the virus is not considered more deadly, but it's far more contagious and spreads more rapidly. The virility of that strain contributed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Jan. 4 announcing a nationwide lockdown in an effort to control its spread. Johnson said his advisers informed him that the new strain was 50 to 70 percent more transmissible than the original virus.

Of the six cases found in the state, four were detected in San Diego County—which confirmed the diagnoses last week—and two more were identified in San Bernardino County.

He added that federal health officials believe the current COVID-19 vaccines will also protect against the new strain of the virus.