Employees at Pfizer Michigan plant work to get COVID vaccine delivered across the country

Boxes packed with dry ice and GPS trackers

Live coverage of first shipments of Pfizer vaccine being shipped from Michigan

PORTAGE, Mich. – Workers at the Pfizer manufacturing facility in Portage filled boxes of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine through the night into Sunday morning.

Getting the vaccine delivered across the country is an enormous task.

Portage is a city in Kalamazoo County and two hours away from Detroit. What is produced inside the plant will have an impact on millions of Americans.

Boxes are being packed with dry ice and GPS trackers because temperature and time are critical.

“Distribution has begun. Right now boxes are being packed and loaded with vaccine with emphasis on quality control,” said Gen. Gus Perna, Chief Operation Officer of Operation Warp Speed.

“We have worked with Pfizer, McKesson, UPS, Fedex, and federal and local law enforcement agencies to ensure safety and security of the vaccine.”

Through the plan called Operation Warp Speed, a total of 636 hospitals and clinics across the states will receive the vaccine this upcoming week.

Perna said Saturday that shipping companies UPS and FedEx will deliver Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 state locations. Another 450 sites will get the vaccine on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It all starts with Pfizer employees packaging the doses, pulling them from freezing temperatures, placing them in special boxes and then shipping them to the places needed the most.

Dry ice will have to keep every box at below freezing temperatures. Each container will weigh around 80 pounds and carry nearly 5,000 doses.

But that is just the first step in multiple waves of America’s vaccination.

“Each week that follows we will have more doses ready for allocation and distribution,” said Perna.

Fedex and UPS will be transporting the medicine all throughout the nation by road and air. UPS is directly responsible for brining the vaccine to the Detroit.

More: What it takes to safely transport Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to hospitals

“It is so important that all vaccine that is available is utilized as a shot in the arm and nothing is wasted. This is our sole focus, every single day, every waking minute that we have,” added Perna.

New: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s what to know today

Related: Pregnant women, Americans who have history of allergic reactions advised to consult with doctor before taking Pfizer vaccine

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.