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US plans to ship 6 million Moderna doses once FDA approves vaccine

The initial shipments of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are more than double the 2.9 million doses the U.S. prepared to initially ship for Pfizer’s vaccine.

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials said Monday they plan to ship around 6 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine next week after federal regulators give the go ahead.

The initial Moderna doses will distributed to 3,285 locations across the country, according to Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed. 

The initial shipments of Moderna’s vaccine are more than double the 2.9 million doses the U.S. prepared to initially ship for Pfizer’s vaccine.

“The difference in quantities is about what was available when we were doing planning to ensure initial delivery,” he said during a press briefing Monday morning. “As early as 15th [of] November, I snapped the chalk line on what was available for Pfizer so states could do planning ...We wanted them to have as much time to do the planning and realize where they wanted it to go first.”

More of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive each week. And later this week, the FDA will decide whether to green-light the world’s second rigorously studied COVID-19 vaccine, made by Moderna Inc.

Perna explained that he didn't need to do a cut off for Moderna's initial order until a few weeks after Pfizer, so there was almost double the doses available at the time for states. 

"The key is we catch up in our following cadence and allocations. There is no exact number, it's a number it's available and that's what's allocated, so that we can ensure a flow of vaccines going out consistently to the states," Perna said.

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The general said he hoped that this time next week those initial Moderna doses will be arriving at the sites, similar to what is happening this week with Pfizer's.

While healthcare workers began receiving the first doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine on Monday, vaccinations at more than 1,100 long-term care facilities and nursing homes are expected to start next Monday, Dec. 21. 

Perna said four states, in partnership with CVS and Walgreens, are planning to scale up vaccinations at long-term care facilities this week.