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A workgroup appointed by the governors of Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada have confirmed the FDA's approval of the vaccine now being distributed.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed now.The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has confirmed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's Office announced Sunday, Dec. 13.

The vaccine is now being distributed throughout the country and vaccinations could begin Monday, offering the first promise that the pandemic will end. It is expected to take months to inoculate enough of the population to begin going back to normal, however.

The workgroup was appointed by the governors of Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before it used. The panel is made up of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health. It worked concurrently and independently to review the FDA's actions related to COVID-19 vaccinations and will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines after they are routed through FDA authorization.

"With recommendations from the FDA, CDC and now the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, Oregonians can rest assured that some of the best doctors, scientists and immunologists in the world have reviewed the data and affirmed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective. We will work as quickly as possible to deliver vaccines to the public, starting with frontline health care workers and those who have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Please keep doing your part to keep your family and loved ones safe — wear a mask, stay home when you are sick and avoid gatherings. Together, we can do this. Hope is on the way," Brown said in the Dec. 13 announcement.

A spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority said the state expected three shipments of the Pfizer vaccine in December, totaling 94,800 doses.

"After months of fighting this relentless virus, we now can begin to offer a vaccine to begin suppressing this disease. It cannot come soon enough — with Washington closing in on 200,000 total COVID cases and nearly 2,900 deaths — this help is much needed to prevent further infection, hospitalization and loss of life," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. "It was crucial that the Western states had their own independent review of the vaccine, so we can have additional confidence on its safety and efficacy before we start administering to the people of our states. I thank the members of the work group, including the two medical doctors from Washington for their rigorous and thoughtful work," Inslee said.

"I am so pleased to see the culmination of the hard work from the best and brightest scientific minds across the region to help build confidence in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine," Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said.

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