Two South Florida hospitals are preparing to take in the vital COVID-19 vaccines that need to be stored in ultra frigid conditions as shots may be given early next week.
At Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, they are looking forward to being able to load up that freezer in the building with the vaccine soon. The temperature inside is almost 100 degrees below zero.
"Essentially, everything is frozen,” said Dr. Bindu Mayi, an infectious disease expert and professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. Keeping the vaccine at that temperature is critical.
It will first go to doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who are treating COVID patients, and then to workers and residents at nursing homes.
The vaccine is being produced by Pfizer in Michigan, where they have containers ready to be shipped. On Thursday, the FDA panel of experts will meet to review all the medical data.
“When they look at data, they are going to look at the efficacy. Is it actually effective?" Mayi said. "The other thing they are going to look at is ... the known and potential benefits, (and) outweigh the known and potential risk of the vaccine.”
Mayi expects the panel to give the green light and then the FDA Commissioner to give the final approval over the weekend.
From the vaccine plant in Portage, Michigan, drivers will head to Detroit International Airport. The aircraft carrying the vaccine fly into MIA, where the vaccine will be unloaded onto trucks, and drivers will take the shipments to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Memorial Regional in Hollywood.
“This is an amazing testament to the power of science, technology and collaboration,” Mayi said.
She believes the state of Florida will be given between one and two million doses. The Army General running the logistics says he will have the vaccine on the road and in the sky within 24 hours of the FDA giving the green light.