UPDATED 8:42 AM PT – Monday, December 21, 2020
The initial doses of the second coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA are en route to several destinations across the U.S. On Sunday, FedEx began shipping the Moderna vaccine just days after it received emergency use approval.
Trucks left Sunday morning from a facility in Mississippi with a police escort and could reach patients as early as Monday. While delivery companies are expected to make vaccine shipments their priority, they are also competing with a surge in holiday shopping.
“The mission right now is to deliver the vaccine as quickly and expeditiously as possible, and to do so while we’re also doing what we call ‘peak’ or the Christmas season,” stated Capt. Mike Meyer, a UPS Airlines pilot. “So all hands on deck at UPS Airlines to get the job done.”
We just announced that the FDA has authorized the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S. for emergency use to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 and over. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the FDA. https://t.co/zyd6dfJr53 pic.twitter.com/oNeB3DXazu
— Moderna (@moderna_tx) December 19, 2020
Similar to the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine, the Moderna shot requires two doses several weeks apart. An expert committee will debate who should be next in line for early doses, which is expected to be people in long-term care facilities and frontline health care workers.
Moderna agreed to deliver about 20 million doses to the U.S. by the end of December and the Department of Defense will partner with the CDC as well as the Health Department for distribution. Delivery services have reported smooth roll outs thanks to months of preparation.
“Our team has been working with the Operation Warp Speed team for months, our network planners, our engineers have carved out a network to make sure that these vaccine distributions don’t miss a beat,” Capt. Meyer continued. “At the same time, folks can count on the reliability that they expect from UPS with their normal packages as well.”
Meanwhile, pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS are administering the vaccine in authorized nursing homes. A more full-scale production of the vaccine is expected into winter 2021.