A small crowd cheered as semi-trucks rolled out of the loading dock at a Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, beginning historic journeys to deliver insulated boxes of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine to hospitals and health departments across America.
Hours later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally accepted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation of the first authorized coronavirus vaccine for people 16 years and older. Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents should be vaccinated first.
Earlier, the caravan of FedEx, UPS and Boyle Transportation trucks — led and tailed by unmarked police cars — pulled out of the parking lot about 8:25 a.m., headed to airports and distribution centers. Pfizer has said it will deliver 6.4 million doses in this initial shipments. Federal officials say they will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centers Monday, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program, said vaccines should arrive at many sites early Monday. The first inoculations could come that day.
The vaccine is offering hope in the fight against the pandemic that has killed nearly 300,000 in the U.S. alone. But it will take months to produce and distribute enough to vaccinate most Americans, and experts warn that infections, hospitalizations and deaths will likely climb this winter.