States will start getting COVID-19 vaccine Monday, US says
UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer's vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centres across the states.
The nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states on Dec. 14, U.S. officials said Dec. 12, after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.
Trucks will roll out on Dec. 13 as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centres across the states, said Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. An additional 425 sites will get shipments Dec. 15, and the remaining 66 on Dec. 16.
Initially, about 3 million doses were expected to be shipped nationwide. It was unclear exactly who would receive the first shots, though health care workers and nursing home residents were the priority. Perna said health authorities would decide.
A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19.
The announcement on Dec. 12 kicks off a massive logistical operation involving the federal and state governments, private companies and health care workers to quickly distribute limited vaccine supplies throughout the U.S. It offers hope in a country grappling with surging COVID-19 infections and deaths, which are overwhelming hospitals and raising fears that things will only get worse as people gather over the holidays.
The first shipments will leave Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by truck and then be flown to regional hubs around the country. Medical distributor McKesson and pharmacy chains, including CVS and Rite-Aid, also are involved in the initial rollout and vaccinations at nursing homes and assisted living centres.
Distribution sites are mainly large hospitals and other facilities able to meet those ultra-cold storage requirements. Within three weeks, vaccines should be delivered to all vaccination sites identified by states, such as local pharmacies, Perna said.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the vaccine late on Dec. 11. It capped an unprecedented global race to speed vaccines through testing and review, chopping years off the normal development process.
Concerns that a shot was rushed out could undermine vaccination efforts in a country with deeply ingrained skepticism about vaccines.
While the vaccine was determined to be safe, regulators in the U.K. are investigating several severe allergic reactions. The FDA’s instructions tell providers not give it to those with a known history of severe allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.