2.9 million COVID vaccine doses to ship out of Pfizer plants in Michigan, Wisconsin

Some worry about safety of vaccine distribution channels

2.9 million vaccine doses to ship out of Pfizer plants in Michigan, Wisconsin

Drug company Pfizer says it can ship nearly three million doses of its coronavirus vaccine right away across the U.S., with most of the doses coming from two plants in the Midwest.

Vaccine doses are slated to be loaded onto trucks within hours at Pfizer’s plant in Portage, Michigan -- just outside of Kalamazoo -- and a center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

At the directive of the the U.S. Military, FedEx and UPS will help deliver coronavirus vaccines throughout the country. In Michigan, UPS will be delivering the state’s 85,000 vaccines from the Pfizer cold farm in Portage. The first vials will be loaded onto cargo planes and trucks in extremely cold conditions, likely right alongside holiday gifts.

So far in Michigan, a total of about 300 sites -- including 48 hospitals and 12 local health departments -- have been chosen to receive the first shipments of the vaccine. In Metro Detroit, those sites include Ascension Macomb-Oakland in Warren and Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

Read: Michigan officials: COVID vaccine to be distributed in 4 phases, prioritize frontline workers

Experts are worried, however, that just ahead of the anticipated FDA approval of the vaccine in the U.S. that the supply chain for its distribution may already be compromised.

“IBM recently released a very disturbing report detailing cyber attacks on COVID-19 vaccine distribution infrastructure and, just last month, a cold chain storage company reported they were also the target of a cyber attack,” said Sen. Gary Peters at a Senate hearing this week.

FedEx and UPS are reassuring the public that their systems -- and in turn, the vaccines -- are safe. Officials say the “data feeds” are well protected and necessary security systems are in place.

Due to the importance of the vaccines, some speculate that distributors could have a police escort on their way to the hospitals or county health departments.

About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.