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

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.

RELATED: FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID vaccine; Michigan will distribute in 4 phases

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.

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.


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