COVID vaccine update: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston Mayor Turner describe next steps

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Monday, December 14, 2020
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner describe next steps
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U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city leaders to give an update Saturday on vaccine distribution plans.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive early next week in Houston, questions remain about what happens after the vaccine is here.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city leaders to give an update Saturday on vaccine distribution plans.

Healthcare providers or workers inside the medical facility, along with nursing home residents and staff, will be the first to the get the vaccine, Jackson Lee said.

Personally I'm going to be vaccinated publicly," Jackson Lee said, "and I hope my fellow elected officials and others will do the same to build up trust in the American people.

WATCH: Sheila Jackson Lee speaks about COVID-19 vaccine

Shipping companies UPS and FedEx will deliver Pfizer's vaccine to nearly 150 state locations, according to Operation Warp Speed officials. Another 450 sites will get the vaccine on Tuesday and Wednesday.

We have 18 clinics across the Harris Health system, most, if not all of them are now equipped with the deep freezer situation so that they can receive the vaccines," Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, President and CEO of the Harris Health System said, "and when the time comes. And when the amount of vaccine is adequate enough we can start vaccinating our public.

The vaccine is expected to arrive Monday morning so that health workers would be available to receive the shots and begin giving them.

"Texas is slated to receive more doses THIS MONTH than the total number of Texans who have tested positive for COVID," Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Saturday.

The U.S. gave the final go-ahead Friday to the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine, marking what could be the beginning of the end of an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. The Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of what promises to be a strongly protective vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city has prepared a plan for when the vaccine will be widely distributed to the community.

When it does come time to for the wider community, we want to make sure that communities that have been impacted the most by COVID-19 are not on the back end of equity and distribution," Turner said.

READ: FDA emergency authorization use letter to Pfizer

Initial doses are scarce and rationed as the U.S. joins Britain and several other countries in scrambling to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of a long, grim winter. It will take months of work to tamp down the coronavirus that has surged to catastrophic levels in recent weeks and already claimed 1.5 million lives globally.

The move sets off what will be the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history -- but it also has global ramifications because it's a role model to many other countries facing the same decision.

It offers the ability "in this situation where the pandemic is out of control, to bring hope to the people," Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, told The Associated Press

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.