SAN DIEGO — More than 28,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could reach San Diego County as soon as this weekend, as the FDA is expected to grant it emergency approval as early as Thursday.
South Bay resident Eric Castillo and his wife took part in Pfizer's vaccine clinical trials.
An essential worker, Castillo believes he received the actual vaccine, not a placebo, based on some side effects - a slight fever and bone chills which he temporarily experienced after the second dose.
"I feel like I won the Lotto," he told News 8. "I was able to get the vaccine and protect not only myself, but my community as well."
County health leaders confirmed that side effects like the ones Castillo experienced are to be expected in 10 to 15 percent of those receiving the vaccine, including fatigue, muscle pain, and fever and chills.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, with three weeks in between shots for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna.
Many other vaccines also require multiple doses, such as for chicken pox and measles/mumps/rubella requiring two, while Tetanus requires three shots.
"We are confident that a lot of focused, dedicated effort can get us to where we need to be in the county," said County Supervisor Nathan Flletcher,
On Wednesday, county leaders confirmed who would be the first to receive the vaccine once it is approved: acute care hospitals and psychiatric hospitals, according to County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.
These critical care health workers will then be followed by long-term care facility residents and employees.
"We anticipate that some time next week, early next week, if not on the weekend even, that we will get vaccines," said Wooten.
County leaders are hopeful any hesitancy in getting the vaccine will diminish over time.
"It is going to take many months before it is widely available, and we think over that time frame confidence will rise," Fletcher said.
That confidence in the vaccine's safety is something that Castillo already has.
"For us to be able to have this vaccine and get back to our normal way of life is really what we need to strive for," he said.
While FDA approval for the Pfizer and Mooerna vaccines is expected very soon, Johnson & Johnson is hoping to seek emergency approval for its COVID-19 vaccine in February, followed by Astra-Zeneca.