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

Process requires, federal waivers, dry ice, air priority and more

Here's what it takes to safely transport Pfizer's COVID vaccine to hospitals
Here's what it takes to safely transport Pfizer's COVID vaccine to hospitals

PORTAGE, Mich.The eyes of the nation are on Portage, a city on Michigan’s west side in Kalamazoo County, just west of Battle Creek.

Workers at the Pfizer plant in Portage worked hard to prepare to ship the vaccines Sunday morning.

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Once those shipments are packed and ready to leave Pfizer, it’s a painstaking process to make sure they arrive safely to hospitals. The plan involving UPS, FedEx and airports across the entire country.

Boxes are loaded with the vaccine, dry ice and GPS trackers because time and temperature are critical.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. To maintain a sustainable temperature during transport, crews are using tons of dry ice -- carbon dioxide that has been cooled to at least 110 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, becoming solid. When dry ice melts, it emits carbon dioxide, so the FAA is requiring crews to wear carbon dioxide detectors inside the pressurized and sealed airplanes transporting the virus.

Packages of the vaccine will also be distributed on dedicated trucks and given escorts to the hospital locations. Truckers in the United States are capped with how many hours they can drive in a day, but the federal government is issuing waivers to the drivers to make sure the vaccines get delivered.

Air traffic controllers will be giving priority to airplanes carrying the vaccines, redirecting and delaying other aircraft to make sure the vaccine gets delivered in a timely fashion.

Pfizer’s COVID to ship out of Portage facility Sunday
Pfizer’s COVID to ship out of Portage facility Sunday


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

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.