The first vaccine against Covid-19 to be approved for emergency use by the FDA was shipped from Pfizer production sites to distribution sites and expected to arrive in the states by Monday morning. This massive effort to get the vaccine to people is the most complex in the history of the United States.
As the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 closes in on 300,000, the news of the arrival of a vaccine that studies show is 95% effective with little side-affects, is good news for the country’s health and economy.
“We’ll be working hard the next couple of days to ensure these first shipments go very well,” said General Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of the Trump administration’s vaccine accelerator, known as Operation Warp Speed, said Saturday at a press conference. “It is the foundation for all future deliveries.”
The Pfizer vaccine presents special logistical problems for shipping and delivery. The vaccine must be stored at super low sub-zero temperatures during the entire shipping process up until shortly before being injected, when it first must by defrosted and diluted.
The first shipment will have about 2.9 million doses of vaccine, with health care workers and long-term care residents getting priority. An additional 2.9 million doses are being held back, to be shipped in about three more weeks so the first recipients will be assured of their required second doses.
The CDC gave its vote of approval on Saturday for the vaccine to be given to everyone in the country over 16 years old.
The head of the FDA, Commissioner Stephen Hahn, offered words of reassurance that the vaccine is safe and effective.
“Science and data guided the FDA’s decision. We will work quickly based on the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure,” Hahn said at a press conference.