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California won't allow virus vaccines without state approval

The workgroup will independently review the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine that gets FDA approval for distribution.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom says California won't allow any distribution of new coronavirus vaccines in the nation's most populous state until it is reviewed by the state's own panel of experts.

Newsom, a Democrat, said Monday that the state wants its own independent review no matter who wins the presidential election next month. He named an 11-person Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to advise the state on when FDA-approved vaccines can be distributed across the state.

The workgroup is made up of California scientists and medical experts who specialize in immunization and public health. The 11 doctors and scientists would review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers.  

The pledge raises the possibility that California residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states.

The workgroup is part of California’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, which Newsom sent to the CDC last week.

“We’re very proud of the work Dr. [Mark] Ghaly and his team have done to identify the experts. They will guarantee safety, equity and transparency of vaccines,” Newsom said in a press conference.

The team is composed of experts in biostatistics, epidemiology, pediatric infectious disease, health equity and healthcare financing.

“California leads in science and by bringing together our state’s brightest scientific minds, we can ensure that any vaccine distributed here meets safety requirements,” Newsom said.

Newsom mentioned that it’s possible that a small number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of this year, but it’s more likely that a wider distribution will happen in 2021. He also mentioned the storage needs for the vaccine need to be met by the state before they can actually be distributed.

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