The US is one step closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal officials just authorized the emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccination. The shots are expected to begin within days across the country.

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In an announcement made Friday evening, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called the vaccine from Pfizer and their German partner BioNTec "safe" and "strongly protective," following several months of trials for the drug.

Friday's announcement marks the final step in the emergency authorization of the vaccination.

Initial doses of the vaccine are expected to scarce as production continues across the globe of the vaccine. The US continues to develop robust plans to distribute the vaccinations across the country. Health care workers and nursing home residents will be first in line for the vaccination, but most decisions regarding the distribution will be made on a statewide level across the United States.

Other drug manufacturers (such as Moderna) are also working towards federal approval for the emergency authorization of their vaccines, which could come before the end of the year as well.

In the meantime, widespread availability of the vaccine isn't expected for the general population until the spring. So experts are urging Americans to mask up and keep their distance during a long, grim winter.

Today's news, however, offers some light at the end of the tunnel on a day when the United States lost more than 3,000 lives to the COVID-19 virus.

Here are some tips for self-care during the pandemic: