MADISON  — A bright spot in this pandemic winter has arrived: The first Wisconsinites are expected to get the COVID-19 vaccine today.

UW Health said in a statement Monday that it received its first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and plans to start vaccinating employees Monday afternoon. 

Across the country, high-priority Americans — specifically, health care workers and long-term care residents — are starting to get their shots this week after the FDA finalized an emergency use authorization Friday. A critical care nurse in New York became the first person in the country to get the shot outside of clinical trials on Monday morning.

Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said last week they were expecting 49,725 vaccine doses in the first batch. And, since the Pfizer vaccine requires two injections, another shipment of the same size will come later to provide the follow-up shots.

The vaccines, which have to be stored at an ultra-cold temperature of minus-70 degrees Celsius, are being sent out to central “hubs” across the state — including UW Health in Madison and Marshfield Clinic in north central Wisconsin — which will then pass shipments along to smaller clinics.

Around 16,000 more doses may arrive as soon as next week from Moderna if that vaccine candidate also receives FDA authorization, according to DHS officials. A panel is set to meet Thursday to discuss Moderna’s results. 

UW Health announced last week that it was training various members of its staff to administer the shots, including nurses, nursing assistants, and clinical techs.

Wisconsin is also participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which will have local pharmacies help give out onsite shots at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

Pfizer will be using its distribution center in Pleasant Prairie — in addition to its main site in Kalamazoo, Michigan — to help ship out doses, according to a Pfizer fact sheet.