COVID-19 vaccination efforts continued across the Southland this week, including the initial wave of health care workers to be inoculated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of nine sites being used for

ultra-cold storage of the Pfizer medication. Front-line workers in the emergency department and intensive-care unit were the first to be offered the vaccinations, which are voluntary. Shots were also being administered at various other medical centers, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts and Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital. The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services had planned to begin its vaccination efforts on Dec. 18 at three of the hospitals it operates— County USC, Olive View-UCLA and Harbor-UCLA medical centers. The county says it plans to vaccinate 6,000 front-line workers at the hospitals by Christmas Day.

At press time, Los Angeles County had received roughly 83,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with the doses taken to the nine cold-storage sites for distribution to 83 acute-care hospitals across the county.

Health care workers are atop the priority list for receiving the vaccine. The vaccine, which received federal approval over the weekend for immediate use, is said to be 95-percent effective at preventing the

virus. Statewide, about 700,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were expected to be on hand and/or administered by the beginning of this week. The state is expected to receive 672,600 doses of Moderna’s vaccine by the end of the month. The state hopes to receive as many as 2.16 million total doses by the

end of the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. Health-care workers and residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities are all included in what is known as Phase 1A of the vaccination-distribution program, meaning they will receive the first doses. Newsom said that group includes about 3 million people statewide. Phase 1B of the program will be “essential workers,’’ a category estimated to include 8 million people, Newsom said. To date, the exact guidelines of what constitutes an “essential worker’’ and which ones will have the highest priority for vaccines.