Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine set to arrive in the Central Valley this week

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nearly 10 months into the pandemic and finally, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

The first coronavirus vaccine authorized for use by the FDA is on the way to front line workers.

"Any vaccine is very beneficial in the line of defense against any infectious disease," says Carrie Monteiro with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency.

In California, Fresno County will be among the first 145 sites to receive the vaccine on Monday.

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Joe Prado, Division manager of community health, will help oversee distribution.

He says healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients are at the top of the list.

"It is not just the nurses and the doctors, it is everyone who works in that high-risk setting," he said. "That could be the janitorial staff, that is the support staff."

In Tulare County, Monteiro says they'll receive close to 3,000 doses of the vaccine early next week.

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They'll break that down into three distributions of about 1,000.

One goes to Kaweah Delta Hospital, another for Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville and the remainder will be given to nursing homes.

"We are ready for distribution of this vaccine as soon as it is delivered to us here in Tulare County," Monteiro said.

Prado says it could take anywhere from six to eight months before the vaccine becomes available to everyone.

In the meantime, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria is trying to move essential workers further up the list.

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Soria is currently recovering from the coronavirus herself.

"There are thousands of workers out there," she said. "Farmworkers, factory workers that are working seven days a week or six days a week."

Prado says in Fresno County, essential workers could be among the third or fourth group to get the vaccine.

He says the ongoing distribution plan will become more defined as more doses of the vaccine become available.

According to Prado, the Valley could receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine next.

It is still pending FDA authorization but could get the green light in a matter of days.

Priority for the Moderna vaccine would also go to healthcare workers and skilled nursing facilities.
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