SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego announced on Tuesday that the hospital was asked by the California Department of Public Health to be a San Diego storage site for the COVID-19 vaccine until the FDA approves the vaccine for emergency authorization use.
They said the facility has the necessary ultra-low-temperature freezer storage capacity and security controls in place, according to the media relations officer for the hospital.
Also on Tuesday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they had voted 13-1 to recommend that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first to receive coronavirus vaccines when they become available.
"Obviously our healthcare workers have to be on front of the line, as do our most vulnerable," said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Regional COVID-19 Taskforce leader.
Rady's said the state and San Diego County are following the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination playbook, which includes a distribution plan.
The CDC advisory panel said in January, 87 million essential workers that include teachers, police, firefighters, food workers and those in transportation will receive a vaccine. The following phase will include 153 million Americas who are age 65 and older and those with high risk medical conditions.
That creates a challenge for San Diego County. Previously, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said those phases make up 75 percent of the county's population and they'll need to prioritize distribution within those groups.
"Our vaccine preparation has been going on for months. [We're] preparing for multiple possible scenarios and unknowns around infrastructure and data and distributing," said Fletcher.
In a statement, Rady Children’s Hospital wrote it does not currently know how much of the vaccine it will receive to be stored, when it will arrive or who will receive it first. Rady Children’s is proud to be part of this initiative that could help bring an end to the pandemic and keep our community safe.
Dr. Mark Sawyer, an infectious disease specialists at Rady's is on the Governor's 11-person taskforce on the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. In November, he spoke with News 8 about the vaccines.
"I'm optimistic that the vaccine is going to here very soon and going to be effective," said Sawyer.
The CDC said it could take at least five months to roll out the vaccine.