Pfizer says vials will depart from its two facilities near Chicago.
Companies like FedEx will take over, using special equipment to keep the doses at ultra-cold temperatures using high-tech monitoring systems, dry ice and special blankets to fly shipments across the U.S.
The vaccine will arrive and go straight into freezers at 20 hospitals around North Texas.
Thousands of employees will then begin to be vaccinated in a matter of days.
North Texas hospitals eagerly await: hope in a vial.
“Not only am I excited about getting [the vaccine], but I think the staff is excited about getting this because now there may be light at the end of the tunnel,” said Methodist Dallas Medical Center Chief Pharmacy Officer, Jon Albrecht.
Hospital leaders tasked with planning the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for employees on the frontlines say they are ready.
The latest news from around North Texas.
“I feel this is why I went into this profession so that I could be of help to the community, to my colleagues knowing that this is a disaster period,” said Sr. VP of Clinical Services for Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dr. Vivian Johnson.
Methodist Dallas received a shipment of syringes and protective gear from the federal government on Thursday in anticipation of the vaccine rollout.
Sub-zero freezers are operational at both Methodist and Parkland hospitals, ready to store thousands of vaccines at a time.
Methodist and Parkland each expect to receive more than 5,800 vaccines in the first round of vaccine distribution.
Parkland does not anticipate beginning vaccinations until next week.
“When we have to use it each morning, I’ll pull out the designated number of doses from that freezer, put it in a refrigerator to thaw about three hours,” said Albrecht.
The vaccines, he says, can also be thawed at room temperature in about 30 minutes.
Johnson and Albrecht say based on established criteria, the first employees eligible to receive a vaccine are those in direct contact with COVID-19 patients.
“That’s physicians, nurses, environmental service workers who clean rooms, facilities, people that fix beds and unplug toilets, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, you name it,” said Albrecht.
Johnson added that some older employees could also become eligible for a vaccine.
She knows all too well the devastating effect coronavirus can have on families.
“My uncle actually passed in November from COVID-19,” she said.
Losing her 80-year-old uncle John, she says, reinforced Johnson’s sense of duty to educate her family and her community about the vaccine she has researched and insists is safe.
Johnson, who is Black, says she understands hesitance about the vaccine among Black Americans.
“I understand from history why they would feel that way,” she said. “I understand why they would feel that way, but again, what is available now is we have data.”
Albrecht says research shows the COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective after the second dose.
“It has the same side effects as the flu vaccine, yet the flu vaccine is only about 50 to 60% effective,” he added. “It works with your DNA to form antibodies, so you’re not exposed to COVID at all, so from my standpoint, it’s a very safe vaccine.”