Pfizer vaccine still has hurdles even after its approval from the FDA, experts say


MIAMI, Fla. – When it comes to Pfizer’s COVID vaccine there are several logistical considerations. It’s what cold supply chain experts call the deep-freeze challenge.

On Friday night, the Food and Drug Administration green lighted the much-anticipated vaccine, which kicks in a prodigious distribution plan with a significant logistical challenge. Unlike the vaccine by Moderna, Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept extremely cold at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Packed with dry-ice for shipment by ground and air and stored in expensive ultra-cold freezers, there are challenges.

Customs and trade expert Lenny Feldman explains: “The cold storage capability in the aircraft, in the warehousing, needs to change exponentially in a very short time.” Feldman said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida’s initial allocation is almost 180,000 doses, that’s less than 1 percent of the state’s total population.

Broward County said it will receive about 10,000 doses to vaccinate staff and residents at its 35 skilled nursing facilities.

Given the initial limited supply, doses will be rationed, going to priority groups first.

Getting through the long-term care and the healthcare workers and then getting it out into the broader senior population is the goal in its first introduction, according to DeSantis.

Then it will go to critical infrastructure employees and finally to the rest of the public, which means for younger, relatively healthy, non-essential workers, they may have access to a vaccine by perhaps by spring 2021.

Pfizer’s vaccine received emergency approval Friday night from the Food and Drug Administration. As for Moderna, the company is set to go before the FDA for approval next week.

Jackson Memorial Health System said they are ready to receive the vaccine and are hoping to get it by Sunday. JMH will subsequently distribute to 13 hospitals in the county, according to officials.

(See the Pfizer vaccine’s distribution fact sheet.)

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