Logistics companies, hospitals ‘poised and ready’ for first COVID-19 vaccines

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:

The next major milestone in the fight against the coronavirus comes on December 10. That’s when the FDA is expected to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Controlling the coronavirus is something we’ve tried to do since Florida’s first case in March. And now, with a vaccine possibly just weeks away, it’s finally within our grasp.

Staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital say they’re ready for the Pfizer vaccine, and they’re planning to freeze as much as they possibly can.

The Miami-Dade County hospital is one of five in the state chosen to be the first to receive shipments.

The others are Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County, Tampa General, Advent Health in Orlando, and UF Health in Jacksonville.

DOCUMENT: Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

While NCH in Collier County isn’t on the list of first recipients, its ultra-cold freezers are ready to go too. Vaccines must be transported and stored at temperatures as low as -94F.

And when it comes to getting the vaccines to the hospitals, Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Americas, is confident in their ability to assist in distribution. “We’re poised and ready for this process.”

Transportation leaders, in the sky and on the ground, say keeping the vaccines at below-freezing temperatures as they journey through the sunshine state is business as usual.

“We have the capability,” explained Jimmy Nares with Miami International Airport. “We have the expertise of properly handling cold-chain pharmaceuticals.”

And when it comes to shipping, Parra added, “There will be basically a sensor that will travel with every one of the shipments, so that we know what is going on. Not only from a temperature perspective but where those shipments are at all times.”

In preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Ron DeSantis said he has ordered an extra five million syringes, needles, and alcohol swabs.

But not all of the details have been figured out just yet.

A representative for UF Health, one of the hospitals chosen to receive the Pfizer vaccine first, said, “Details of how and when the vaccine will be distributed and who will receive any initial doses are still being worked out at the state and federal levels.”


Statement from UF Health:

“Details of how and when the vaccine will be distributed and who will receive any initial doses are still being worked out at the state and federal levels, although it’s our understanding that front-line health care workers will be among the first eligible to receive them.

“We do not yet have details of what this will mean for UF Health and our hospitals in Gainesville, Jacksonville, The Villages and Leesburg and hope to learn more within the next few weeks. We look forward to sharing more information with the communities we serve as it becomes available.”

Statement from Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew:

“Florida’s hospitals are actively working with state and federal officials in anticipation of 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will likely be available by the end of December, pending Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)
approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Each person vaccinated will require two doses, which means there should be enough vaccine for 20 million Americans within the next 45 days.

“The federal government selected five Florida hospitals to serve as beta sites based on cold storage capacity, regional location and administration of the Pfizer vaccine. Additional vaccines will rapidly follow to other hospitals.

“In the weeks ahead, hospitals will continue building upon their existing flu vaccine administration plans and prioritizing health care workers to receive the first dosages of the vaccine, including those who provide direct care for COVID-19 patients. In addition, hospitals are structuring an approach that accounts for temperature stability and two doses separated by weeks, and prioritizing medication distribution based on their vaccine allocation from the federal government.”


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