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The United States on Monday administered the first shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to health-care workers, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s long march to bring the virus under control.
The vaccine comes at an urgent time, with the U.S. nearing 300,000 total Covid-19 deaths and top health officials warning that daily new deaths might not slow for months, even with a vaccine.
With limited doses available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised states prioritize distribution to frontline health-care workers and long-term care residents, who are among the most vulnerable to the disease.
The swift rollout of the vaccine promises to be a monumental logistical challenge. The federal government has partnered with UPS, FedEx, McKesson, CVS, Walgreens, among others, to help distribute the vaccine and actually administer it. But state officials have warned that the so-called last-mile delivery of the vaccine will be the most challenging, and local officials are largely responsible for that effort. State officials have repeatedly called on the federal government to provide more funding to hasten the effort.
“There is not one part of this country that’s not being touched today through Wednesday,” Gen. Gustave Perna, who’s in charge of logistics for Operation Warp Speed, said Monday at a briefing. “It is not a one-and-done delivery. It is a consistent flow of ordering, preparation and delivery.”
With distribution challenges ahead and the outbreak still raging, officials and health-care workers took time Monday to celebrate the arrival of the vaccine, and the hope it represents. Across the country, images flowed in of health-care workers receiving their first shots and the first doses arriving at more than one hundred distribution sites.
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