Across the United States, state health departments are preparing local hospitals for the first shipments of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes it, possibly as early as mid-December.
At Philadelphia International Airport, workers lined up giant refrigerated containers that will be used to receive and transfer the vaccines for distribution when they are approved for use
The vaccines will be transported in dry ice-filled, suitcase-sized containers that can only be opened twice a day and last a maximum of two weeks.
At CryoCarb, a Wisconsin-based dry ice manufacturer and supplier, dozens of shipping containers are being filled with freshly manufactured dry ice that will be used to safely store the vaccines as they travel from manufacturers to people’s arms. The shots need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below to avoid spoiling
The first shipment is expected to cover inoculations of 3.2 million people, nowhere near enough for the 21 million U.S. healthcare workers. And government officials said initial shipments would also go to five government agencies including the Departments of Defense, State and the Veterans Health Administration.
The subsequent two weekly vaccine distributions could cover 7 to 10 million people a week, provided a second vaccine – from Moderna Inc – is authorized early in the second half of December, and Pfizer meets its distribution estimates, according to data provided by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the companies. Federal officials have not disclosed exactly how many doses will be in later shipments.
(Production: Gershon Peaks, Nicholas Pfosi, Pavithra George)