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Pfizer vaccines reach 141 of 145 locations slated for first day deliveries -HHS

(Reuters) -Pfizer Inc and partners have delivered the first COVID-19 vaccines to 141 of 145 locations targeted by the U.S. government for the first day of a nationwide rollout on Monday, a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said.

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Healthcare facilities in four island territories - American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the North Mariana Islands and Guam - are still awaiting their supplies, the spokeswoman told Reuters.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE was authorized by U.S. regulators for emergency use late on Friday, and the first shipments were sent out on Sunday.

The U.S. government is aiming to distribute the first wave of 2.9 million vaccine doses to 636 locations nationwide by the end of the week.

U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on a Monday press call that severe storms expected in some parts of the country this week could pose challenges to vaccine shipments.

Federal officials are in talks with Pfizer to acquire additional COVID-19 vaccine doses beyond the 100 million that it has already purchased, U.S. Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said on the call, confirming earlier comments from Pfizer’s chief executive.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said on the call that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided $145 million to states to aid with distribution.

“Literally millions of doses right now are getting out there to the American people. And by next week, we believe we could be having a second vaccine,” Azar said at a news conference at George Washington University Hospital as part of a vaccination kick-off event.

“By the end of February, what you saw today could be replicated a 100 million times, a 100 million shots in arms between the first and booster vaccine,” Azar said.

Most doses delivered in the United States will be sourced from Pfizer’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities, including its factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Some of the initial doses were sourced from a facility in Belgium, Perna said. He said he expects subsequent doses to be sourced from within the United States.

U.S. officials are hoping Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently being reviewed by U.S. regulators, will be available for distribution as early as the beginning of next week, Perna said.

AstraZeneca Plc has enrolled 22,000 people into U.S. clinical trials for its vaccine and could submit for emergency authorization as soon as February, Slaoui said.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell and Rebecca Spalding in New York, and Manas Mishra and Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Peter Henderson, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall

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