Trucks carrying the shot will begin deliveries Sunday, with injections slated to commence Monday

The federal government plans to distribute over the coming week a total of 7.9 million doses of vaccines from Moderna and
Pfizer Inc.,
PFE -0.92%
which developed the first Covid-19 shot authorized for use in the U.S.
The second vaccine from Moderna, added to the Pfizer vaccine, now allows us to be on the offense against the coronavirus pandemic, Gen. Gustave Perna, who is overseeing the federal vaccine-distribution plan, said Saturday.
Modernas Covid-19 vaccine was cleared for use in the U.S. by health regulators Friday, the second shot to get the green light. WSJs Peter Loftus explains how Modernas vaccine may boost scarce supplies and sidestep some of the logistical issues encountered by Pfizers vaccine. Photo: AP
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the emergency use of Modernas vaccine in people 18 years and older, citing the shots high effectiveness in preventing Covid-19 in a large clinical study.
A panel of doctors and public-health officials advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Saturday to recommend that people receive the Moderna vaccine.
This represents progress toward ending this horrific pandemic, said committee member Beth Bell, a professor of global health at the University of Washington.
The clearance came a week after the FDA authorized use of the first Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S., developed by Pfizer and its German partner
BioNTech SE.
The CDC committee also recommended the Pfizer vaccine last week.
Health authorities view inoculations as crucial to allowing people to gather in large numbers, and for schools, businesses and other establishments to fully reopen.
During the first week of the mass immunization campaign, Pfizer shipped 2.9 million doses of its vaccine, which largely went to health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
Many hospitals, nursing homes and other sites in more rural areas, however, missed out because they lacked the freezers capable of storing the shots at ultracold temperatures.
These hospitals and other vaccination sites have been waiting for Modernas vaccine, which also must be kept cold but at higher temperatures that most standard medical freezers can accommodate.
Another factor making Modernas shot more accessible for smaller and harder-to-reach vaccination sites, Gen. Perna said, is the shipment sizes. An order for Modernas vaccine contains 100 doses, while Pfizers has 975.
This week, the federal government planned for deliveries of 5.9 million doses of Modernas vaccine and two million doses of Pfizers.
Public health authorities have started setting priorities for who should get the Covid-19 vaccine first. Based on targets for distribution, here’s a potential scenario for how doses of Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines could be distributed:
distribution target 20 million people
Health-care personnel
21 million
(U.S. population)
Long-term care facility residents
3 million
Each figure = 1 million people
distribution target 30 million people
SECOND-highest priority
Essential workers
(non-health care)
87 million
distribution target
at least 50 million people
distribution target 50 million people
third highest
100 million
Adults with high-risk medical conditions
53 million
Adults age 65+ years
Michael Dacey, president of Riverside Health System, a Virginia-based health-care provider that encompasses five hospitals and 10 nursing homes, said his company is anticipating an allocation of 5,000 initial doses of the Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks.
Riverside has already received 2,800 initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to Dr. Dacey. Altogether, he said, the supplies wont be enough for a system with 10,000 employees, as well as 1,300 nursing-home residents.
It is going to leave us short, no doubt, he said.
Jimmy Lewis, chief executive officer of HomeTown Health LLC, an Atlanta-based company that serves as a consultant to rural hospitals throughout Georgia, expressed concern that some people living around the hospitals might be hesitant to take the vaccine.
We get the vaccines, but how do we convince people that this is the right thing? he said.
Other challenges remain in rolling out both vaccines. This past week, some shipments of Pfizers vaccine had temperature variations that required them to be returned for replacement doses.
And several states, including Illinois, Michigan and Iowa, complained they werent getting as many doses of Pfizers vaccine as expected.
Gen. Perna apologized for the miscommunication, saying he had given states larger estimates earlier based on projections of how many Pfizer doses would be available for shipment.
Pfizer said it is coordinating closely with federal officials to deliver as many doses as possible to people in the U.S.
Gen. Perna said he still expects that enough doses to vaccinate about 20 million people will be allocated by the end of December, though distribution of those doses might now spill into the first week of January.
Moderna, of Cambridge, Mass., has been manufacturing doses of its vaccine at its plant in nearby Norwood, Mass. Contract manufacturer
Lonza Group AG
is also making doses at plants in New Hampshire and Switzerland.
The U.S.-made doses are sent to a plant in Bloomington, Ind., operated by contract manufacturer
Catalent Inc.
It fills vials with the vaccine and packs them for shipment.
Catalent said its employees are working around the clock to supply 20 million doses of Modernas vaccine by the end of the month, and hundreds of millions of doses next year.
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McKesson started picking up the doses from Catalent on Saturday and moving them to distribution hubs. UPS and FedEx are scheduled to collect the supplies Sunday and deliver them to sites.
UPS and FedEx will deliver both vaccine doses and kits that contain needles and syringes necessary to inject the shots.
Doses are being sent to hospitals initially because federal and state officials have said health-care workers should be among the first to be vaccinated with the limited supply.
Another priority group, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, are also starting to get inoculated. Pharmacy chains
CVS Health Corp.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
are conducting vaccinations at these sites.
—Joe Barrett contributed to this article.
Write to Peter Loftus at and Charles Passy at
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