NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first coronavirus vaccine in the country.

Friday night, the FDA approved Pfizer‘s COVID vaccine for emergency use in the United States. The company’s CEO says the first doses will be shipped throughout the country immediately.

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As CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported, the country is a giant step closer to knocking out the pandemic.

This comes after an FDA advisory panel Thursday recommended emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for those 16 and older.

Pfizer’s headquarters in New York City bears the reminder, “Science is relentless. It never gives up.” That was the case with this vaccine, developed in record time.

COVID Vaccine: FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Emergency Use Authorization Of Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine

The next challenge will be delivering the doses. UPS and FedEx launched a nationwide operation to do so.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state should receive 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as Sunday or Monday.

“We also will get to 346,000 doses of Moderna on top of the 170,000,” the governor said.

The first doses are expected to go to health care workers and nursing homes, then comes convincing others to get it.

“We have to hit 75% to 85% of the population for the vaccine to be effective. We have 50% of the population saying they won’t take the vaccine. That’s a problem,” Cuomo said.

Watch Jenna DeAngelis’ report —

There’s also great concern about outreach and getting it to the communities who need it most.

“You all know the way COVID has impacted communities of color has been devastating,” Congresswoman Karen Bass said.

“Let the dissemination be driven by the data and the need. And we know that that in fact is going to be in communities of color and immigrant and throughout Indian country,” Rep. Hakeem Jefferies said.

In preparation, New York City is opening a new command center Monday across the street from City Hall with a focus on 27 of the hardest hit neighborhoods identified by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the task force will assure fast and fair distribution. He also said they will work to build trust in communities where people are uncertain about the vaccine.

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“It’s not just about logistics. It’s about making sure we win public trust,” he said Friday. “It’s about ensuring equity.”

The city plans to use NYCHA space and NYC Health and Hospitals clinics to vaccinate priority populations and work with various community partners to spread the word, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports.


Area hospitals could receive the vaccine as early as this weekend.

Hackensack University Medical Center has a special ultra cold Pfizer freezer that can store about 4,000 doses.

“It certainly gives us a sense of relief, a sense of security that we’ll receive the vaccine and have that level of protection,” Hackensack University Medical Center President Mark Sparta told CBS2.

Watch Alice Gainer’s report —

In order to reach herd immunity, it’s estimated at least 70% of the U.S. population will have to be vaccinated. So the question remains – when released to the general public, will you take it?

“There’s too many restrictions. I just want to get back to some sort of normalcy,” said Michael Brizan, of Queens.

“For now, I’m wait and see mode. I’m never the first mover. I always like to see how things go first, and then go from there,” Sarah Wacick, of Midtown East, said.

She wants to learn more about the effects of the vaccine after reports of allergic reactions in the U.K., which the FDA says it’s looking into.

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Many health officials feel the benefits far outweigh the risks, and the vaccine will be a game changer.

“It should give us energy to get through the next six-plus weeks,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “I’m not suggesting February is the end zone, but it just begins. The curves are going to start to come down.”

Federal officials say vaccinations could come as soon as Monday or Tuesday. New Jersey is expected to receive about 76,000 doses in its first shipment.

Connecticut is expecting about 31,000 doses in its first shipment.

Next, the FDA will review a second vaccine from Moderna, which is also on track for public release by the end of next year.

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