Officials preparing for first COVID-19 vaccine shipments

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials are hoping the first shipments of A vaccine against coronavirus can be shipped as early as next Friday.

Of course, that all depends on if and when the FDA grants emergency use authorization.

The hearing for Pfizer/BioNtech's vaccine is scheduled for next Thursday, December 10th.

Moderna will have its hearing a week later on the 17th. Officials have said once authorized, vaccines could be shipped within 24 hours.

If both vaccines are authorized, we could have 40 million doses to vaccinate 20 million Americans in December.

Those first doses are slated to go to healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities.

Pfizer's vaccine, which has to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, will ship to all 50 states, eight territories and six major cities - including Philadelphia.

Governor Phil Murphy says several New Jersey hospitals are in position to receive the first shipment.

"We anticipate that the first distribution will include a total of 76,000 doses and there will be shipments, I think we can assume, every week there after," he said.

And while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines move forward, two others are in late stage clinical trials in the U.S.

Trials are also starting to test vaccine in children.

But while the vaccine is a light at the end of a very long tunnel, Director General of the World Health Organization urges everyone to keep in mind there's a ways to go.

A vaccine for the general public likely won't be available until spring next year.

"My advice is simple. Be careful and act for the greater good because it will save lives and livelihoods," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual conference.

Action News has been soliciting your questions about the vaccine.

One viewer asking: Do you still need to wear a mask for a period of time after receiving the vaccine?

It's a great question and the answer is yes. People will still need to keep taking precautions, such as wearing a mask and keeping distance, until we have enough people vaccinated and we start to see spread of the virus come down.

Officials say we need about 70% of the population vaccinated in order to end the pandemic.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.