Here's how Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrives at a hospital near you

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
How does the COVID-19 vaccine get to a hospital near you?
Pfizer has been training to distribute its vaccine since March. The process is the biggest logistical operation in American history.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Pfizer has been training to distribute its vaccine since March. The process is the biggest logistical operation in American history.

Within 24 hours of the FDA's greenlight, 2.9 million doses of the vaccine shipped out to all 50 states and eight territories. 2.9 million vaccines will be shipped to the same location in three weeks for the second dose. 500,000 doses will be held in reserve as a backup.

Building a Better Bay Area: Vaccine Watch

Remember that slogan, what can brown do for you? In this case, brown is bringing the COVID-19 vaccine. UPS and FedEx are getting the job done by ground and air.

In many ways, it's like getting regular mail. A big truck pulls up to drop it off at your local hospital. Then, somebody signs for it. On Monday in Colorado, that "somebody" was the governor, a nod to the level of security surrounding the doses.

"We have a UPS premier gold service," Wesley Wheeler, UPS President of Global Healthcare, said. "There's four radios on the label, go on every single vaccine package and every dry ice package. This allows us to see the package as soon as it arrives in any of our locations."

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Los Angeles County hospitals are expected to receive about 83,000 doses of Pfizer's authorized COVID-19 vaccine this week.

The U.S. Marshals service is conducting the vaccine transport security on the roads. In the air, the FAA is giving all planes with vaccines on-board priority clearance.

"There will be no higher priority shipments in our network than these vaccine shipments," said Richard Smith, Regional President of Americas and Executive VP of Fedex Express. "They will have the highest priority of anything we carry."

RELATED: San Francisco receives 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses, more on the way

A Pfizer control tower, UPS and FedEx are monitoring the boxes of vaccine 24/7. The surveillance is not only to keep up with the location, but to make sure the vaccines stay extremely cold. The doses must stay at minus 70 degrees Celsius, which is colder than winter in Antarctica.

In Pfizer's first round of doses, trays of vials were pulled from more than 300 freezers. Each box can hold a maximum of five trays, which is about 5,000 doses.

In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County is getting more than 17,000 doses of vaccine, which is the largest amount for the region.

VIDEO: When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine? We explain who goes 1st

Since the coronavirus started spreading across the globe in late 2019, scientists have been looking for a vaccine. Now that vaccines are proven, it will ultimately be up to each state to determine who will get the vaccine, and when?

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