Newsom Names Scientific Safety Workgroup to Review COVID-19 Vaccines

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the formation of the COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, comprised of nationally acclaimed California physician scientists with expertise in immunization and public health. The workgroup will be tasked with independently reviewing the safety and efficacy of any COVID-19 vaccine that receives approval for distribution from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the Newsom Administration, workgroup members will be guided by the principles of safety, equity, and transparency in reviewing and verifying the safety of any vaccine before it is made available to any Californians.

The COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup is a key component of the state’s initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan that was recently submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of the plan, Governor Newsom indicated the first doses of any approved vaccine will be provided to health care workers, first responders, and individuals who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Members of the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup are:

  • Chairman Dr. Arthur Reingold, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Division Head at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health
  • Dr. Tómas Aragón, Health Officer of the County & City of San Francisco and Director of the Population Health Division of the San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • Dr. Matt Zahn, Medical Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Assessment for the Orange County Health Care Agency
  • Dr. Rob Schechter, Immunization Branch Chief at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
  • Ambassador Eric Goosby, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Global Health Deliverty, Diplomacy, and Economics at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Dr. Rodney Hood, President and Founder of the Multicultural Health Foundation
  • Dr. Nicola Klein, Senior Research Scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and Director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center
  • Dr. Grace Lee, Professor of Pediatrics at the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
  • Dr. Yvonne (Bonnie) Maldonado, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Mark Sawyer, Infectious Disease Specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at University of California, San Diego
  • Dr. Peter Szilagyi, Pediatric Health Services and Clinical Researcher at UCLA

The Newsom Administration notes that many members of the workgroup are current and prior members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the CDC. A Drafting Guidelines Workgroup will also be formed to develop California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccines when supplies are limited; this workgroup will be comprised of immunization, public health, ethicists, and health care and academic experts. A Community Advisory Vaccine Committee will additionally provide input and feedback on the state’s planning efforts and solve barriers of equitable vaccine implementation and decision-making.

The full announcement from the Newsom Administration is available here.