CHICAGO (WLS) — The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are already on their way as deliveries are expected at various hospitals and other cold-storage facilities between Monday and Wednesday. This as Illinois reported another 115 people lost to the virus.
Nearly three million vaccine doses began to roll out Sunday, and more than 16,000 of those doses are slated to arrive at Loyola University Medical Center.
The Herculean effort has been compared to D-Day.
Pfizer began shipping the vaccine from its Kalamazoo, Michigan plant Sunday morning, less than 48 hours after the FDA granted emergency use authorization.
The precious cargo was then loaded onto planes in Grand Rapids for nationwide transport.
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“I’m moved by the impact of science, I’m moved by the impact that we can have for patients around the world,” Mike McDermott, President of Global Supply at Pfizer.
UPS planes equipped with special ultra-cold freezers will take the vaccines across the country.
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Federal officials said the shipments are being staggered, arriving at 145 distribution centers Monday, 425 on Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday.
When they will begin arriving in Chicago -just 150 miles from the plant- is not yet clear, as security concerns have led health officials to keep most of that information under wraps.
“One thing we did was communicate with those partners so they could begin the distribution process. The states will operational ILE that & the vaccines will be administered,” said Dr. Stephen Hana with the FDA.
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The first doses are expected to be administered Monday.
With health care workers and those in nursing homes at the top of the list to receive vaccinations, it may be several months before they’re available to the community at large. Much remains to be worked out about how that will happen.
Some are already pushing for city and state officials to widen their vaccination campaign beyond health care facilities, worried that in a city where 3 out of 10 people don’t have access to a vehicle, many might be left out in the cold.
“We have DFSS facilities. We have warming centers. We have park districts, we have churches, we have the ability to make sure that everybody in the City of Chicago has access to vaccination,” said Ald. Byron Lopez.
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Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Public Health remains deliberately vague, saying they are prepared to accept, store and distribute vaccine doses when they arrive, but not saying exactly when that will happen –only that it will be in the next couple of days.
The FDA reiterated that it has sees the potential benefits of the vaccine outweighing potential risks.
An independent panel also advised the CDC and recommended that people 16 and older be vaccinated.
Experts said they still do not know if someone who is vaccinated can still spread COVID-19.
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