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First Coronavirus Vaccines to Head to States, Starting Historic Effort

“They’re still a little bit hesitant,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “If we don’t put ourselves out there first, take the first doses of vaccine and show that we believe in it and trust it, I don’t think the long-term-care folks are going to have the uptake they need.”

In most states, the concerted effort to vaccinate nursing home residents will begin a week later. Starting Dec. 21, CVS and Walgreens will send teams of pharmacists out to about 75,000 nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities in all 50 states, under a contract with the federal government, to vaccinate as many residents and staff members as agree to it. CVS is aiming to complete the process over nine to 12 weeks.

On Thursday afternoon, as an F.D.A. advisory committee debated whether to recommend authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, the first packages of supplies to administer it — vaccination record cards, masks, visors, information sheets and syringes — arrived at UPMC Presbyterian, a hospital in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Graham Snyder, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at UPMC, said that a hospital committee had concluded that the immediate goal for allocation was to prevent transmission from the community to the hospital staff.

“The greater likelihood of their exposure is in the community and home than in the workplace,” he said, noting that health care workers have generally taken great precautions when they are among patients.

Some hospitals have said they will give priority to workers with underlying medical conditions that would put them at higher risk for severe disease.

Dr. Marci Drees, the infection prevention officer and hospital epidemiologist at ChristianaCare, a Delaware-based hospital system, said that the system would offer its health care workers a list of such conditions but would ask them only to disclose generally whether they had any.


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