The first of many freezer-packed COVID-19 vaccine vials made their way to distribution sites across the United States on Sunday.
The rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ushers in the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history.
Sunday workers at Pfizer dressed in fluorescent yellow clothing, hard hats and gloves — wasted no time as they packed vials into boxes. They scanned the packages and then placed them into freezer cases with dry ice.
The vaccines were then taken from Pfizer’s Portage, Michigan facility to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, where the first cargo plane took off amid what airport officials called a “jubilant” mood.
Tracked with GPS-enabled sensors, the initial shipments were expected to contain about 3 million doses, with many more to come. Federal officials say the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centres today, with another 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday.
Doses of the vaccine, co-developed by German partner, BioNTech, are given out based on each state’s adult population. Then, the states decide where they go first.
Despite the breakthrough, it is understood that some individuals are not interested in the vaccine, which raises concerns. For example, a survey from The Associated Press – NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research, found that about half of Americans want to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Another quarter aren’t sure, while the remaining quarter say they aren’t interested.
Some simply oppose vaccines in general. Others are concerned that the vaccines have been rushed and want to see how the rollout goes.
- Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Science Adviser to Operation Warp Speed, a U.S. effort to get vaccines developed quickly, also said he is “very concerned” about the scepticism about the vaccine in some circles.
- Initial surveys have found that even some health care workers don’t want to be first in line.
- Graham Snyder, who’s led the vaccine task force at Pennsylvania health care giant, UPMC, estimates that only about half of its employees are willing to get the vaccine as soon as it’s offered.
In an effort to convince people about the efficacy and authenticity of the vaccine:
- Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the FDA, which approved the Pfizer vaccine Friday, has repeatedly insisted that the agency’s decision was based on science not politics, despite a White House threat to fire him if the vaccine wasn’t approved before Saturday.
- Slaoui added that regarding “the confusion between how thorough and scientific and factual the work that has been done is, and the perception that people are thinking that we cut corners; I can guarantee you that no such things have happened, that we follow the science.”
What they are saying
“This is a historic day,” said Richard W. Smith, who oversees operations in the Americas for FedEx Express, which is delivering 630-some packages of vaccine to distribution sites across the country.
Helping with the transport of the vaccine has special meaning to Bruce Smith, a FedEx package handler at the Grand Rapids airport, whose older sister, Queen, died after she contracted the coronavirus in May. She was hospitalized in Georgia one day after he saw her on a video chat, and they never spoke again.
“I think she would be ecstatic to know that something that has ravaged our family — that a family member is going to be part of such a big project,” said Smith, 58, whose nephew, Queen’s son, also got sick and is still undergoing therapy for stroke-like symptoms. “It is very, very important.”
What you should know
- Health officials hope the American public will embrace, even as some have voiced initial scepticism or worry.
- Shots are expected to be given to health care workers and nursing home residents beginning Monday.
- Quick transport is key for the vaccine, especially since this one must be stored at extremely low temperatures – about 94 degrees below zero.
According to worldometer
- US’ pandemic deaths stands at a horrifying new milestone of 306,459 as of today.
- There are concerns that a second wave of Covid-19 is happening globally.
- Worldwide, there are 72.65 million confirmed cases as of today.
- Deaths amount to 1.62 million as of today.
- Daily cases have continued to rise since March.
- Daily deaths have surged since the last decline in October.
According to Nairametrics Covid-19 tracker
- Confirmed cases in Nigeria stands at 73.18 thousand as of 13th December.
- Active cases stand at 5.9 thousand.
- Daily deaths stand at 1.20 thousand.