Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch,…
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Dec. 20, 2020.

Moderna, Inc. and its partners have started distributing their COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, the second approved for emergency use in the country.  

Shipments began leaving warehouses early Sunday for health care facilities around the country, which leads the world with 17.6 million cases and more than 316,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program, told CNN that the first shots of Moderna’s vaccine are “most likely” going to be administered Monday morning. 

“It’s going to be slightly easier to distribute,” he said, “because it doesn’t require as low a temperature as Pfizer.” 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Moderna for emergency use.  It approved a vaccine produced by Pfizer-Biotech for emergency use earlier this month.

FILE - A COVID-19 vaccination appointments sign points the way at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois, Dec. 17, 2020.
In US, People Over 75 and Essential Workers Next in Line for Vaccine
The Pfizer and Moderna shots shipped so far and in the next few weeks are nearly all going to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes

Gen. Gustave Perna, the U.S. Army general in charge of distributing COVID-19 vaccine across the U.S., apologized Saturday to the governors of more than a dozen states that will be getting fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than they expected. 

"I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication," he told reporters during a telephone briefing. "I know that's not done much these days. But I am responsible. ... This is a Herculean effort and we are not perfect."   

Perna said he mistakenly cited the number of doses he believed would be ready, not understanding the difference between manufactured doses and those ready to be released.   

Between the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna Inc. vaccine, Perna said the government is expecting to deliver 20 million doses to the states by the first week of January.   

Meanwhile, Slaoui warned Sunday of higher infections in the U.S. due to the coming Christmas holiday. 

"It will get worse, because we are still experiencing the outcome of the Thanksgiving holidays, and the gatherings, and unfortunately there might be more with the Christmas gathering... so there will be a continuing surge," he told CNN. 
 

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