How COVID-19 vaccine doses are distributed

The federal government buys doses from the vaccine manufacturers, then distributes the vaccine doses to states. States then decide what each county will receive.

YOLO COUNTY, Calif. — The number of Californians eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine is about to skyrocket in the coming weeks. That’s because, on Mar. 25, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state will soon allow all residents age 16 and up to receive the vaccine starting on April 15.

Before then those age 50 and up will be eligible to receive the vaccine on April 1.

Here is a simplified breakdown of how counties are allocated their share of vaccines, according to Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan.

The federal government buys doses from the vaccine manufacturers. Three vaccines have been approved for use in the US so far, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The government then distributes the vaccine doses to states.

As an example, Tan said California was allotted 1 million doses this week. State health officials say they expect to receive approximately 2.5 million first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses per week in the first half of April, and more than three million doses in the second half of April. Those doses, however, don’t arrive all once. They are delivered in shipments

“Once California hears how many doses it’s getting, then it decides how many doses each county and multi-county entity, or MCE, gets. The MCEs are like Kaiser, Sutter Health and Dignity,” Tan explained.

“The state will say, for example, to Yolo County, we will give you 3,000 doses this week. The County then says ‘Yes, we want them all.’ So, the doses go from manufacturer to federal government, to state, to county,” Tan continued.

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