By Marlee Ginter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In a major step to flatten the curve, an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine is now on its way to California. Some of the very first doses are scheduled to arrive at UC Davis Health within days.

The freezer is chilled and secured tightly as it sits empty, but not for long.

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“So that freezer back there is minus 80, which is super cold.  Your typical freezer is minus 20.  We’ll be able to store about 150,000 doses in that particular machine there,” said Chad Hatfield, UC Davis Health Chief Pharmacy Officer.

UC Davis Health is one of only a handful of hospitals chosen in part for its storage capability and ability to distribute the vaccine to the community when it’s more widely available.

Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County’s Public Health Officer, says the earliest for the general public to receive a vaccine would be in early Spring.

“2020 has been a very difficult year for everybody and so to end it at this point where we have something to look forward to is great,” Dr. Kasirye told CBS13.

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County health officials are still working out details of who gets the vaccine first. In the meantime, UC Davis Health researchers developed a tier system based on work risk.

For example, in the emergency department, custodial workers, physicians, nurses, first responders and clerks fall in the top tier for vaccination priority.

“The data has shown, at least coming from the FDA, that it is effective and like other vaccines, there are some folks that will not get it.  I think in order to curb the pandemic, this is one of the tools in our arsenal to complete,” said Hatfield.

Some big questions remain like exactly how many doses they’ll get in this first shipment and the exact day they’ll arrive.  UC Davis Health says it will be able to store 400,000 doses at one time and that they’re prepared to inoculate up to 400 employees per day.

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