Thursday, December 31, 2020

George Ade's New Years Thoughts

George Ade

More State Stall

Although at the national level, new weekly claims for unemployment insurance fell last week, both on a seasonally-adjusted and unadjusted basis, California claims began to rise again after a previous-week drop. Probably, the fact that the state has surging coronavirus cases and new lockdown rules is the main factor in the divergence.

As always, the latest data are at

One more reason NOT to gather (as above) tonight.

The Artful Regents

From Mission Local: Facing a foreclosure and public sale of San Francisco Art Institute’s 95-year-old main campus, the Regents of the University of California in October quietly stepped in, bought the prestigious but troubled art school’s $19.7 million debt from a private bank, and will now serve as its landlord. Internal documents indicate that the fate of the school’s famed — and extremely valuable — Diego Rivera mural [above] is uncertain. A series of documents obtained by Mission Local trace this notable chain of events. 

In July, Boston Private Bank & Trust Company moved to foreclose on the 149-year-old art institution, with the earliest possible sale of the main campus at 800 Chestnut Street coming three months later. On Oct. 13, the date for a public sale on the City Hall steps was set for Nov. 19. “Said property is being sold for the purpose of paying the obligations secured by said Deed of Trust, including fees and expenses of sale,” stated the Oct. 13 Notice of Trustee’s Sale. “The total amount of the unpaid principal balance, interest thereon, together with reasonably estimated costs, expenses and advances … is $19,662,553.90.” 

That public sale, slated for City Hall’s steps, would never take place. Instead, the UC Regents handled things in-house. As recorded in an Oct. 30 “Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure,” Boston Private granted to the UC Regents “an absolute conveyance of title to the Property for a fair and adequate consideration, being the full satisfaction of all obligations secured by the Deed of Trust” — which would presumably be the aforementioned $19,662,553.90, the “obligations secured by said Deed of Trust,” or a figure near that.

In another Oct. 30 document, the Regents were recorded as the new trustee holding the school’s deed of trust. And in yet another Oct. 30 document — signed by the Art Institute’s Board of Trustees chair Pam Rorke Levy and Lauren Friedman, the UC Office of the President’s executive director of Capital Asset Strategies — the art school is designated the tenant with the UC Regents serving as the landlord. The lease expires in October 2023, and the tenants have an option to buy the property based upon “terms and conditions in the lease” — which Mission Local has not obtained. 

This apparent expenditure of nearly $20 million in public funds was undertaken without public fanfare by UC. That’s notable, but the UC Regents’ involvement in this matter was not surprising. The Regents have served as “remainder trustees” of the school dating back to an 1893 agreement between UC and SFAI benefactor Edward Searles. And, as Mission Local noted in July when Boston Private moved to foreclose on SFAI, “Thanks to this 19th-century pact, if the Art Institute were to cease to be, its real properties — and debt — would fall to the UC Regents.” Calls and emails to the UC Regents were returned by automated messages stating the office is on cessation until Jan. 4. 


Soon, but no comment now

From LAistEarlier this month the California State University system announced it would return to in-person instruction in the fall of 2021, but so far there’s no word from the University of California on its plans for next year. 

Nevertheless, administrators at some of the university's 10 campuses are taking steps to prepare for students’ return to in-person learning...

UC President Michael Drake is likely to announce UC’s systemwide plans early in the new year. His office was not available for comment...

Full story at

Looking West

Back in the day when UCLA had just moved to Westwood, there wasn't much to see from the campus looking west. 

Source (with a bit of color added):

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Gone, But Not Forgotten - Part 2

Gone, but not forgotten: Deleted Twitter account

Follow-up to our earlier post.*

From the chancellor & EVC of UC-Merced:

Regarding Social Media Posts

December 29, 2020

Re: Social Media Posts

To: All campus

Dec. 29, 2020

Dear UC Merced community,

A Twitter account associated with a faculty member included messages that crossed the line established by the Board of Regents in their 2016 Statement of Principles Against Intolerance condemning anti-Semitism and “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism,” and affirming that “acts of discrimination that demean our differences, are antithetical to the values of the university and serve to undermine its purpose.”

The opinions presented in this Twitter account do not represent UC Merced or the University of California. They were abhorrent and repugnant to us and to many of our colleagues and neighbors; they were harmful to our university, our students, and our years of work to build an inclusive and welcoming community.

The Twitter account, now deleted, was called to our attention by the media. We have now confirmed the account was in fact associated with a member of our faculty. The professor’s dean subsequently emailed faculty and staff in the school on Dec. 23 calling the tweets “reprehensible” and affirming that they in no way represent UC Merced. We have called upon the dean and department chair to work with the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel to conduct an inquiry into potential violations of our standards, the UC Faculty Code of Conduct or other policies of the university, to determine what consequences are appropriate.

We have heard from some students who have raised concerns about this faculty member’s online statements about their heritage. These concerns will be addressed through the Offices of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

We are also directing the Office of the Associate Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to develop programming for the spring semester that addresses free speech, hate speech and anti-Semitism in academia and promotes ways to challenge discriminatory insinuations when and wherever they emerge within the university community.

Finally, we remind everyone in our community that we are a public university with a mission of teaching, research and public service, and no aspect of that mission should be undermined — as it has in this instance — because of one person’s personal political, social, cultural or religious views that target others with biases, stereotypes and prejudices.

The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost and the Division of External Relations will work with the Office of Legal Affairs on policy updates that make clear the rights and the responsibilities of our community members to adhere to all applicable policies and expectations against intolerance, particularly when using social media.

We must not let anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry or hate toward any group take root in the UC Merced community.

Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D., Chancellor

Gregg A. Camfield, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost



* See also: It is reported that the individual in question has retained a lawyer. It's not clear that a retired faculty member can face any discipline other than removal of emeritus status.

Some Vaccine Info - Part 2

Email received this morning from UCLA Health:

There are now two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. You may be wondering: How do they work? And when can I get the vaccine? Below we answer 6 frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. If any of your questions weren’t answered, you can access the UCLA Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information Hub, or simply type your question into the website’s chatbot.

1. What are the COVID-19 vaccines?

There are two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA. How do they work? Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines work by helping your body produce antibodies, the proteins that help fight infections.

The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, four weeks apart. There are also several other vaccines in various stages of clinical development.

2. When will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

UCLA Health will move as quickly as possible to give the COVID-19 vaccine to patients. We will begin proactively reaching out within the next several weeks. More information, including the CDC’s criteria for prioritizing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, is available here.

3. How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic illness for COVID-19 a couple of weeks after both doses are received, according to FDA data.

4. Is it safe for me to get vaccinated?

The answer is: yes. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines went through rigorous review before the FDA authorized them for use. Clinical trials included people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to make sure that the vaccine was effective and safe for everyone.

Experts agree that getting the vaccine, along with wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and avoiding crowds (especially indoors) is the best way to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community.

5. What are potential side effects?

In ongoing clinical trials, the most common side effects are mild, and include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and mild fever. Side effects tend to go away after a day or two, and may be a little more pronounced after the second dose.

Experiencing side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is not a sign of infection. It’s likely the vaccine doing its job!

As with any vaccine, there is a low chance of allergic reaction. If you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to vaccines, it’s a good idea to talk with your primary care physician to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.

6. What about allergies? Under what circumstances should somebody not receive the vaccine?

You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine or a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.

You can find the ingredients and more information on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the FDA website.

Thank you for trusting UCLA Health to be your partner in health care. We are here for you and will continue to provide you with up-to-date information.


Johnese Spisso, MPA
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Robert A. Cherry, MD, MS
Chief Medical and Quality Officer
UCLA Health


Note: Yours truly has heard folks say they want the vaccine, but don't want to be first. Unless you are a health worker in the top priority classification, you won't be first:

Even Hamilton wants his shot!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Keep your distance!

From the LA TimesThis wasn’t the first time Shay Rose went viral. But it was the biggest. In her 21 years, the social media star — Shay Rose is a pseudonym — has built a mammoth following on TikTok and Instagram with handmade whimsical costumes that re-create looks from Disney princesses to Lady Gaga. 

When the pandemic began, Rose moved from the UCLA dorms back in with her family in Orange County. As cases climbed in September, she wondered: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own social distancing bubble?” She had plenty of pink tulle on hand, and besides, wouldn’t it be fun to make a dress with a 6-foot radius? 

By the end of November, the finished project had racked up 3.9 million likes and 16.8 million views on the social media platform TikTok...

Full story at

Monday, December 28, 2020

Quiet Time

The upper campus is technically closed, although no one is around to monitor occupancy and there are a few folks using it as a public park. If you look closely, you will spot a few individuals. These photos were actually taken just a week ago when yours truly went to his office to collect some items for winter teaching.

Berkeley Pipeline Shutoff

From the San Francisco Chronicle: UC Berkeley shutting down rare pipeline for doctorates of color. Its supporters are fighting back

...For decades, the ISSI [Institute for the Study of Societal Issues] at UC Berkeley has served as a pipeline into the social sciences — sociology, psychology, anthropology, public health, ethnic studies, criminal justice and more — particularly for people of color. Its unique formula for guiding students like Rios to their doctorates and beyond has worked like a well-tuned car since its founding in 1976.

So why kill it? UC Berkeley says one problem is that the pandemic has dried up the flow of rescue funds for the financially strapped institute. But just as troubling, the school says, is that it resides in a historic building that is falling apart — and there’s nowhere else for it to go. Campus officials may be able to find space for some of the ISSI’s six component parts, they say, but not for all of them, and certainly not together. Supporters say that having all the ISSI components together is its magic. Without that, the formula falls apart...

Alumni are fighting back. With petitions, testimonials and letters to top administrators, they want to persuade UC Berkeley to keep the ISSI open. From the university’s perspective, the problem is money. When the ISSI saw hard times in the last 44 years, UC Berkeley or the University of California president’s office always came through. Not now...

The ISSI is a network of six centers identified by their academic focus — Ethnographic Research, Social Medicine, Latinx Research, Native American Issues, Research on Social Change and Right-Wing Studies — and a competitive Graduate Fellows Program for doctoral students, which gives them a stipend so they can study instead of teach or hold down another job...

Full story at

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Some Vaccine Info

 Info on the new vaccines: Video below:

Or direct to

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Gone, but not forgotten: Deleted Twitter account

UC-Merced has a problem:

From the San Francisco Chronicle, 12-26-20: It wasn’t clear last week whether the UC Merced School of Engineering planned to take any action against a professor who maintained a Twitter account replete with anti-Semitic remarks and images. Abbas Ghassemi tweeted multiple antisemitic posts using “IsraHell” in place of “Israel,” and posted images found on antisemitic conspiracy websites, according to a report Monday from the Jewish News of Northern California.* 

The account was deactivated on Dec. 18 after the news outlet reached out for comment about the account, which was registered to “@ProfessorGhass1,” but not before screenshots of the tweets were archived. The account was created in July 2019. “As the now-inactive Twitter account made clear, these were the opinions of a private individual, not the positions of the institution,” said James Chiavelli, the assistant vice chancellor of external relations at UC Merced, in an email to The Chronicle. Citing university policy, Chiavelli added that UC Merced is “committed” to upholding the right to free expression and encouraging “a culture of dialogue, understanding, and civility in all interactions.”

From the Fresno Bee and Sacramento Bee, 12-22-20: It was unclear Tuesday whether UC Merced would take action against a professor whose personal Twitter account allegedly shared anti-Semitic tropes and other disparaging comments and images about Jewish people.

Professor Abbas Ghassemi, a faculty member at the UC Merced School of Engineering, deleted his Twitter account last week containing a slew of offensive posts, according to the Jewish News of Northern California, an online news site that first revealed the Tweets in a story Tuesday.

Ghassemi’s account, which was created in 2019, was registered to “@ProfessorGhass1” and contained posts accused of peddling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Before deleting his account, he had published or retweeted more than 2,200 times, the site, which also calls itself “J.,” reported.

The Jewish News of Northern California said it had archived the tweets before the account was deactivated and published the remarks Monday, showing one recent example where Ghassemi posted an image of a “Zionist brain” with labels that included a “frontal money lobe,” “Holocaust memory centre” and “world domination lobe” with the caption “reality bites!!!!!!”*

The same image of the “Zionist brain” said the “‘compassion for others’ gland is not shown due to its small and underdeveloped nature, best viewed under a microscope.” He also frequently used “IsraHell” in place of “Israel” in many of his posts, the news site reported.

Ghassemi could not be reached Tuesday after multiple requests for comment.

A university spokesperson on Tuesday said the comments posted on Ghassemi’s account did not reflect the opinions of UC Merced.

“As the now-inactive Twitter account made clear, these were the opinions of a private individual, not the positions of the institution,” James Chiavelli, the assistant vice chancellor of external relations at UC Merced, told The Bee in a statement.

Chiavelli added that the university’s principles include a right to free speech.

“Under our principles of community, UC Merced is committed to ‘uphold the right to freedom of expression and encourage a culture of dialogue, understanding, and civility in all interactions,’” he said.

Chiavelli did not respond to questions about whether the university would take disciplinary action or terminate the professor.

The Jewish Federation of Central California, one of the Valley’s most prominent Jewish organizations, called Ghassemi’s remarks “reprehensible” and “hateful.”

“The current wave of verbal and physical attacks against Jews, Muslims, Blacks and Latinx demonstrate the need to continually educate our community about tolerance, democratic ideals and appreciation of each other as individuals or religious and ethnic identities,” said Phyllis Farrow, executive director for the Jewish Federation of Central California.

Ghassemi received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1979 and pursued a doctorate degree from New Mexico State University from 1988-91, according to his profile on the university website. He taught as a professor at New Mexico State University for 25 years before obtaining his UC Merced position in 2018.

UC Merced is the newest public research institution from the University of California system. Founded in 2005, UC Merced is located in between the cities of Modesto and Fresno in the central San Joaquin Valley. As of 2020, it holds a population of about 9,000 students and 1,600 faculty.

Source: and

Note: The individual in question is listed on UC-Merced websites as both Professor-Emeritus, i.e., retired, and "Teaching Professor" suggesting courses are still being given.


*Image can be see at

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Research on Coronavirus Vaccine Willingness

Universities get $4.1 million to figure out how to engage hard-hit communities on COVID vaccines

 'We must earn the trust of communities whose lived experiences may predispose them to skepticism,' says one infectious disease expert

By TERI SFORZA | LA Daily News | December 26, 2020

Six hundred poor Black men were recruited into a syphilis experiment with the promise of free medical care. They did not, however, get the simple antibiotic treatment that could have cured them; instead, the government’s true intent was to track the venereal disease’s full, uninterrupted progression, even as the men went blind, or mad, or died.

Native Americans who worked with researchers investigating type 2 diabetes were stunned to learn that their DNA was used in several other genetic studies without their consent.

The communities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic have historic reasons to be wary of governmental largess, especially as it pertains to health care. This poses a formidable dilemma to public health officials eager to reach people and gain their trust as the pandemic peaks and the largest mass vaccination campaign in history unfolds

‘Reasons to be suspicious’

“There are a lot of groups that have reasons to be suspicious,” said David Lo, director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at UC Riverside. “We’re trying to understand how people gather information, develop attitudes and understand the disease, and testing, and willingness to be tested, and vaccines. Where do they get their information? Who do they trust? What strategies can we use to get accurate information to them and change acceptance and uptake?”

Investigators at 11 California campuses have received $4.1 million from the National Institutes of Health to tease out how to best engage hard-hit populations — which may well be different in each individual community. UCLA will lead the effort — called the COVID-19 California Alliance, or STOP COVID-19 CA — which includes researchers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, USC, Stanford University, Scripps Research and San Diego State University.

“We must earn the trust of communities whose lived experiences may predispose them to skepticism,” said Carrie L. Byington, an infectious disease expert and executive vice president of University of California Health, in a prepared statement. “We must listen actively and address concerns respectfully through understanding, transparency and sustained action. The STOP COVID-19 initiative combines interdisciplinary collaboration with community engagement to build the connections that will be vital to ending the pandemic for everyone."

In Los Angeles, Riverside and elsewhere, investigators are organizing “in-depth virtual focus groups” with multiethnic communities to identify barriers and challenges. Another project would assess racial and ethnic attitudes among high-risk veterans who might be skeptical of vaccines. The lessons learned could be used across the state and nationwide.

In parallel, community-based surveys are coming together, said UCR’s Lo. Where do you get health information? Doctors? Faith leaders? School officials? Neighbors? The internet? Is the Spanish-language newspaper considered an authority? What’s the best way to reach people — radio? pamphlets? virtual neighborhood meetings? And what precisely are the concerns about inoculation? Is it safety? Effectiveness? Erroneous rumors that vaccination will “change” their DNA?

“The answers to these questions mean it will vary from community to community in terms of who you recruit for help,” Lo said. “We need to know all this to be able to engage and address their concerns directly, rather than saying, ‘Here’s a list of answers.’ “

Initial findings will emerge in the coming months, but the efforts will yield long-term usefulness, increasing the cultural competency of medical school students and doctors.

Black distrust of vaccines

A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that while the willingness to get COVID-19 vaccines has increased, it’s still markedly lower in Black communities. Thirty-five percent of Black respondents said they were definitely or probably not going to get a vaccine, compared to 26% of Hispanic and White respondents.

Among all those who are hesitant, the main reasons were worries about possible side effects (59%), lack of trust in the government to ensure safety and effectiveness (55%), concerns that the vaccine is too new (53%) and concerns over the role of politics in the development process (51%).

About half of Black adults who said they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated say it’s because they don’t trust vaccines in general (47%) or that they are worried they may get COVID-19 from the vaccine (50%).

“(M)essages combating particular types of misinformation may be especially important for increasing vaccine confidence among this group,” Kaiser said.

Latinos make up 39% of California’s population, but more than 56% of COVID cases and nearly 48% of deaths. Black people make up 6% of California’s population, 4% of cases and 7% of deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health.


Friday, December 25, 2020

Holiday Greetings from the Blog - Part 2

Various movies are typically shown in this season such as "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) and the more recent "A Christmas Story" (1983).* The latter is based on a compilation of stories told on the radio by raconteur Jean Shepherd who broadcast on WOR in New York from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. The signal reached quite far and he had followers throughout the Northeast and Midwest. One of the more famous episodes in "A Christmas Story" was about a boy who supposedly got his tongue stuck to a lamppost. The movie resets the story in the 1940s in Cleveland although the original radio story would have taken place in the late 1920s in Hammond, Indiana where a statue of the boy stuck to the pole has been built.**

Below is the original radio story:

Part 1

Or direct to

Part 2

Or direct to




Thursday, December 24, 2020

Holiday Greetings from the Blog

Tropical Ice Gardens in Westwood c1940

And we'll even add a bit of inspiration:

Or direct to

ICU Occupancy

The New York Times provides a link from which data on ICU capacity area listed. For the period December 11-17, the figures are:

UCLA-Westwood: 94%

UCLA-Santa Monica: 90%

Some other Westside hospitals

St. Johns - Santa Monica: 92%

Kaiser - WLA: 88%

Cedars-Sinai: 112%

You can find enter a location into the link for other areas and hospitals at:

Sign of the times


Many (most?) faculty have not been inside UCLA buildings or their offices since things shut down last March. Yours truly entered his office last Monday to pick up certain materials for winter instruction. The wall calendar still was on the March page. The clock had not been shifted to standard time. Various items on the desk reflected things that were going on last March. Eerie.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Relief (Kind of)

The data on new weekly claims for unemployment insurance came out a day earlier than usual due to the upcoming holiday. For California, after a surge in new claims that seemed related to the tighter coronavirus lockdown rules recently imposed, new claims dropped back to levels seen a few weeks before.

If that interpretation is correct, things have stopped getting worse (or we have settled into a level of worse, however you want to frame it). Similar developments occurred at the national level.

As always, the latest new claims data are at: 

Settlement Poses Heaps of Political Problems for the Regents

From the LA Times: A state lawmaker who wrote the law allowing accusers of a UCLA gynecologist more time to sue is advising University of California regents to reject a proposed $73-million class-action settlement, saying it will curtail many of the alleged victims’ rights.

The proposed settlement was reached last month by attorneys for the UC system and lawyers for seven women who said they were sexually battered by Dr. James Heaps while they were patients at UCLA.

Heaps, 67, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he sexually abused seven patients. More than 200 women have accused him in the civil litigation of sexual assault and sexual misconduct from 1983 to 2019, during his tenure at the UCLA student health center and UCLA Medical Center.

State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), in a letter to the UC Board of Regents on Dec. 15, said the settlement was “negotiated in secret without notice or input from the more than 200 women who have filed suit against UCLA.” Wicks said the deal was designed to undermine the intent of Assembly Bill 3092: The legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1, will give survivors until the end of 2021 to file lawsuits. Wicks noted that the number of alleged victims could number 6,600...

There is a provision in the provisional settlement that allows UC regents to pull out of the deal if more than 250 patients decide to pursue litigation outside the agreement...

Full story at

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Vaccine News from UCLA Health

From an email received today:

The vaccine brings hope this holiday season

Every year, the holiday season gives us time to reflect on the things we're grateful for and the ways we can make life better for those around us. This year, the gift we're most grateful for actually is the way we'll make life better for those around us: the COVID-19 vaccine.

We received the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and started vaccinating health care workers last week. Vaccine distribution is based on a very thoughtful set of criteria from the CDC.

When will the vaccine be available to patients?

We look forward to having a COVID-19 vaccine available for all patients as soon as possible. At present, we are waiting on guidance from the CDC and the federal government about which vaccines we will receive - and when - so we can begin distribution. We will follow the CDC’s strict criteria for prioritizing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine.*

We know how valuable current information is to you and we are committed to updating you as soon as information becomes available. We will share updates with you regularly through email and, when appropriate, through your patient portal, myUCLAhealth. Please see our COVID-19 FAQs for answers to many vaccine questions, and see the latest blog posts, below. Thank you for trusting UCLA Health to be your partner in health care. We are here for you.

Warmest regards this holiday season,

Johnese Spisso, MPA
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Robert A. Cherry, MD, MS, FACS, FACHE
Chief Medical and Quality Officer
UCLA Health

*The item below seems to define the criteria for the next stage of vaccination:

People over 75, essential workers are next in line for COVID vaccine

By ASSOCIATED PRESS | 12-20-20 | LA Daily News

NEW YORK — An expert committee put people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers next in line for COVID-19 shots as a second vaccine began rolling out Sunday to hospitals, a desperately needed boost as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

The developments occurred as the nation seeks to ramp up a vaccination program that only began in the last week and so far has given initial shots to about 556,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech, as well as the one from Moderna Inc., which was approved by regulators last week, go first to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes, based on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The committee voted 13-1 on Sunday to put people 75 and older as well as certain front-line workers next in line for the vaccines.

Those essential workers include firefighters and police officers; teachers and school staff; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; public transit and grocery store workers.

The committee also voted that behind those groups should be other essential workers; people ages 65 to 74; and those aged 16 to 64 who have certain medical conditions — like obesity and cancer — that put them at higher risk for severe disease if they get infected with COVID-19.

The expert panel’s recommendation next goes to the CDC director and to states as guidance to put together vaccination programs. CDC directors have almost always signed off on committee recommendations. No matter what the CDC says, there will be differences from state to state, because various health departments have different ideas about who should be closer to the front of the line.

Pfizer’s shots were first shipped out a week ago and started being used the next day, kicking off the nation’s biggest vaccination drive.

Earlier Sunday, trucks left the Olive Branch, Mississippi, factory, near Memphis, Tennessee, with the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The much-needed shots are expected to be given starting Monday, just three days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized their emergency rollout.

In Louisville, Kentucky, UPS driver Todd Elble said his vaccine shipment was the “most important load that I’ve hauled” in a 37-year career. His parents contracted COVID-19 in November, and his 78-year-old father died. He said the family speculates that his father got infected while traveling on a hunting trip with four other relatives to Wyoming, and some are still sick.

“I’m going to take the vaccine myself. I’m going to be first in line for my father — I’ll tell you that much — and any others that should follow,” he said. “I feel in my heart that everybody should, to help get this stopped.”

He added: “To bring this back, I feel Dad was in the truck with me today.”

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser to the federal government’s vaccine distribution effort, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that nearly 8 million doses will be distributed Monday, about 5.9 million of the Moderna vaccine and 2 million of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. He said the first Moderna shots should be given Monday morning.

Public health experts say the shots — and others in the pipeline — are the only way to stop a virus that has been spreading wildly. Nationwide, more than 219,000 people per day on average test positive for the virus, which has killed over 316,000 in the U.S. and nearly 1.7 million worldwide.

Slaoui also predicted the U.S. will experience “a continuing surge,” with larger numbers of coronavirus cases possible from gatherings for Christmas.

“I think, unfortunately, it will get worse,” he said.

There won’t be enough shots for the general population until spring, so doses will be rationed at least for the next several months. President-elect Joe Biden pledged earlier this month to have 100 million doses distributed in his first 100 days in office, and his surgeon general nominee said Sunday that it’s still a realistic goal.

But Vivek Murthy, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said it’s more realistic to think it may be midsummer or early fall before coronavirus vaccines are available to the general population, rather than late spring. Murthy said Biden’s team is working toward having the shots available to lower-risk individuals by late spring but doing so requires “everything to go exactly on schedule.”

“I think it’s more realistic to assume that it may be closer to mid-summer or early fall when this vaccine makes its way to the general population,” Murthy said. “So, we want to be optimistic, but we want to be cautious as well.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s surgeon general, Jerome Adams, defended the administration’s handling of the Pfizer vaccine Sunday, a day after the Army general charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines across the U.S. apologized Saturday for “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution. At least a dozen states reported they would receive a smaller second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine than they had been told previously.

Gen. Gustave Perna told reporters in a telephone briefing that he made mistakes by citing numbers of doses that he believed would be ready. Slaoui said the mistake was assuming vaccines that had been produced were ready for shipment when there was a two-day delay.

“And unless it’s perfectly right, we will not release vaccine doses for usage,” he said. “And, sometimes, there could be small hiccups. There have been none, actually, in manufacturing now. The hiccup was more into the planning.”

But Adams, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said that “the numbers are going to go up and down.”

“It absolutely was not poor planning,” he said. “There’s what we plan. There’s what we actually allocate. There’s what’s delivered, and then there’s what’s actually put in people’s arms.”

Adams, who is Black, said he understands that mistrust of the medical community and the vaccine among Blacks “comes from a real place,” the mistreatment of communities of color. He cited the decades-long Tuskegee experiment in Alabama, where Black men with syphilis were not treated so the disease could be studied.

He also said immigrants in the U.S. illegally should not be denied the vaccine because of their legal status because “it’s not ethically right to deny those individuals.”

“I want to reassure people that your information when collected to get your second shot, if you get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, will not be used in any way, shape or form to harm you legally,” Adams said. “That is something that I have been assured of.”

Both the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech shot require two doses several weeks apart. The second dose must be from the same company as the first. Both vaccines appeared safe and strongly protective in large, still unfinished studies.