COVID-19 Vaccine: Who is Getting It First?

Video by County News Center

The novel coronavirus vaccine is expected to arrive in San Diego County soon.

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccine will be done in phases. The vaccine allocation was determined by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the distribution of all vaccines.

Phase 1A, 1B and 1C:

The County is expected to get about 28,000 doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer in the next few days, after it receives emergency use authorization. Critical care health workers will be the first people to get it, followed by long-term care facility residents and employees. As other pharmaceutical companies receive emergency use authorization, more vaccines will arrive in the region.

The initial distribution will not be sufficient to vaccinate all people in these populations. However, the state anticipates the second round of vaccines to follow about three weeks after the first round.

If the ACIP approves the remaining recommendations, and once people in the first two groups in Phase 1A are vaccinated and more COVID-19 vaccine doses are available, they will go to essential workers (Phase 1B). These are people who work in education, food and agriculture, police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and transportation workers, among others.

After that, the priority will be to vaccinate adults with underlying medical conditions and people over the age of 65 because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 (Phase 1C).

Phase 2:

Immunizations will then be available for children and young adults under the age of 30 and then for critical workers not included in Phase 1 or Phase 2.

Phase 3:

The final phase will be people of all ages who live in the United States.

The phases could be revised as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices determines if some groups are at higher risk from COVID-19 and therefore would need to be vaccinated sooner.

The CDC anticipates that by June of 2021, everyone wanting to get vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to do so.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

The Pfizer vaccine coming to San Diego County is administered via two shots in the arm and research has shown that it’s about 95% effective.

The vaccine is safe, but about 10% to 15% of people may have some side effects such as fever, fatigue, headache and muscle pain. These symptoms should go away on their own after a couple of days.

Once people in the United States start to get vaccinated, the CDC will expand its safety surveillance to make sure the vaccine is working as it should.

“This initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution will give us one more tool to try to slow the spread of the pandemic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, it’s important that people continue practicing the recommendations we’ve given to prevent getting and spreading the virus until we have achieved herd immunity.”

ICU Capacity and Stay Home Order:

  • The current ICU capacity for the Southern California region is now 9% and will be updated by the state daily.
  • The Regional Stay Home Order is now in effect and prohibits gatherings of any size with people from other households and adds restrictions for multiple sectors.
  • The order will last for at least three weeks or until the region’s ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. The order will be assessed by the state after the three-week period.

Community Setting Outbreaks:

  • Six new community outbreaks were confirmed on Dec. 8: two in business settings, two daycare/preschool/childcare settings, one in a retail setting and one in a food/beverage processing setting.
  • In the past seven days (Dec. 2. through Dec. 8), 67 community outbreaks were confirmed.
  • The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
  • A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.


  • 25,017 tests were reported to the County on Dec. 8, and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 8%.
  • The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 7.4%. Target is less than 8.0%.
  • The 7-day, daily average of tests is 24,425.
  • People at higher risk for COVID-19 who are with or without symptoms should be tested. People with any symptoms should get tested. Healthcare and essential workers should also get a test, as well as people who have had close contact to a positive case or live in communities that are being highly impacted. Those recently returned from travel, or who participated in holiday gatherings, are also urged to get tested.


  • 2,104 new cases were reported to the County on Dec 8. The region’s total is now 97,549.
  • 4,987 or 5.1% of all cases have required hospitalization.
  • 1,090 or 1.1% of all cases and 21.9% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
  • A COVID-19 case rate map shows how local cities and communities are being impacted by the virus.


  • 15 new COVID-19 deaths were reported to the County on Dec. 8. The region’s total is now 1,103.
  • Eight women and seven men died between Dec. 2 and Dec. 8, and their ages ranged from late 50s to mid-90s.
  • All had underlying medical conditions.

More Information:

The more detailed data summaries found on the County’s website are updated around 5 p.m. daily.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact