South Florida Prepares to Distribute Covid Vaccines This Month

FIU Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty says it's going to take a logistical feat to get shots in the arms of South Florida’s residents

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Like everywhere, South Florida is waiting to see exactly when and where the COVID-19 vaccine will be available.

As to the when, that could be in a few weeks, but making that happen is a gigantic task.

FIU Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty says it's going to take a logistical feat to get shots in the arms of South Florida’s residents.

"There’s a whole bunch of things going on to the logistics of this," Marty said.

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine right now is being produced at a plant in western Michigan. Workers there are storing it at a temperature that’s almost 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

From the vaccine plant in Portage, Michigan, drivers will get on Interstate 94 and head to Detroit’s International Airport. From the airport, the flights with the vaccine will fly into Miami International Airport where the vaccine will be unloaded onto trucks, and drivers will take the vaccine to their initial South Florida locations at Jackson Memorial Hospital and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.

American Airlines has been running practice flights to make sure the vaccine is kept at its super cooled temperatures, and the FAA is helping too.

"Each state and each municipality that receives these airplanes has to have their own plans for transportation, right," Marty said.

Peter J. Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner, and current president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest joined NBCLX and debunked many of the fears people have expressed about taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

On the ground, photos from UPS show the coolers their drivers will use to keep the vaccines at the right temperature during transit.

"They are packaged there in these 195 vile packs that are frozen and in special containers that they have developed that can keep the product safe for a period of time," Marty said.

A CDC committee decided Wednesday that doctors, nurses, and other personnel directly treating Covid patients will get the shots first, and along with them health care workers at nursing homes and the residents too, then first responders.

"It’s two doses a person, spaced 21 days apart," Marty said. "Nursing homes, other long term care facilities, anticipating and recognizing that their population is the one that had the highest incidents of fatality, have developed implementation plans."

The FDA will meet December 10th on whether Pfizer gets the approval to go ahead and give out the vaccine. There’s more technical data they want to take a look at.

Some might ask why residents in the United Kingdom are getting to go first. Marty said the FDA has another level of them looking at the final data, and the approval authority in the UK didn’t do that.

If you want the see the complete Florida vaccination plan, click here.

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