You Won't Be Able to Get the Pfizer COVID Vaccine in These 2 Places

Don't expect a COVID vaccine at either of these two convenient locations.

The results from Pfizer's COVID vaccine trials shattered expectations: with 95 percent efficacy against the virus, our country's premier immunologist, Anthony Fauci, MD, called Pfizer's achievement "extraordinary." Now, officials are setting their sights on distribution. However, the last mile of our path to a vaccine is unlikely to be such smooth sailing. Beyond the herculean task of vaccinating a global population of seven and a half billion, the vaccines themselves come with built-in challenges. In the case of Pfizer's candidate, the need for ultra-cold storage could prove a strain on distribution efforts—especially given that this requirement will make it impossible to distribute from the locations that are typically considered most convenient: regular doctor's offices or pharmacies. Read on to learn how the COVID vaccine will be distributed despite this hurdle, and for more on where you should avoid right now, check out Almost All COVID Transmission Is Happening in These 5 Places, Doctor Says.

While these locations would be ideal vaccination sites for maximal public access and ease, experts say that most are not equipped for the task. "The Pfizer vaccine must be kept super cold—at the temperature of dry ice—making it harder for most pharmacies and doctor's offices to accommodate it," writes USA Today. "The vaccine can be stored for up to five days at normal freezer temperatures. It is shipped in boxes that contain 975 doses, so a vaccine administration site would have to be able to use up all those doses within five days, which will likely need to be at a larger medical center," the publication adds.

As Pfizer explains on their website, they plan to ship large quantities from hubs in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, using temperature-controlled air and road transportation to reach large medical facilities. The pharmaceutical giant will use GPS-enabled thermal sensors to ensure that temperatures remain suitably arctic in transit, and someone will need to replace the dry ice in the storage containers every five days. The vials cannot be re-frozen should they rise above the required storage temperatures, and they need to be used within a maximum of 35 days.

In other words, the Pfizer candidate is an undeniably high-maintenance vaccine.

Other vaccine candidates, including those from Moderna and AstraZeneca, may be "more widely distributed," William Schaffner, MD, professor of health policy and of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told USA Today. That's because these products can be refrigerated for up to a month before being used, at more moderate temperatures than the Pfizer vaccine.

"Moderna's vaccine will be more available in suburban and rural areas where it's harder to get access to ultra-cold storage," Jeylan Mammadova, health care analyst for investment research firm Third Bridge, added while speaking with USA Today.

Read on to learn more on challenges in the COVID vaccine's distribution plan, and for more essential COVID news, check out If Anyone Over 60 Lives in Your House, You Need to Be Doing This.

Read the original article on Best Life.

We're going to need a lot of glass vials.

A close up of a blue gloved hand holding a glass vile of coronavirus vaccine dosage

A successful distribution plan will require the manufacturing of billions of glass vials for sterile storage. This means that many privately owned medical supply companies are scaling up their operations at breakneck speed.

As Forbes reports, one Italian vial manufacturer is currently building new machinery, forming unprecedented government partnerships, streamlining their designs, and hiring a swath of new employees, all in a race against time to meet new demand. And for more recent COVID news you need to know, check out This Type of Face Mask Isn't Protecting You From COVID, WHO Warns.

We'll need to build public trust.

Nurse applying vaccine on patient's arm while wearing a face mask

With skepticism and conspiracy theories swirling around the race for a vaccine, many Americans are reluctant to commit to becoming vaccinated. In fact, a November Gallup poll revealed that just 58 percent of Americans plan to take a vaccine as soon as one becomes available to them (up from 50 percent in September).

Given that we will need to reach 75 percent immunity in order to bring the pandemic to its knees, the building of public trust will be an essential part of any successful vaccine plan.

The sheer scale of the job will be grueling.

Vaccination in front of map

It would be hard to overstate the challenge of delivering even a single-dose COVID vaccine to the global population on a condensed timeline. Given that Pfizer and Moderna's candidates both require two doses, strategists will have to work unprecedented magic to get 15 billion shots into the arms of the public.

"If it's difficult in the U.S., it's going to be virtually impossible in most emerging markets," such as Central and South America and many places in Africa, warned Mei Mei Hu, co-founder and co-chief executive of Covaxx, to Science News. And for more coronavirus updates delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

We'll need to focus on equity.

Man getting vaccinated against coronavirus

Many areas won't have the necessary equipment to meet the vaccines' various requirements. Even standard freezers needed to store Moderna's vaccine will be scarce in some areas. "There's lots of places where you can't get a cold Coke," Hu told Science News.

Experts have recommended implementing certain strategies to ensure equity, including guaranteeing access for individuals who can't pay, developing fair priority groups, recruiting diverse populations for clinical trials, using inclusive and transparent messaging, and more. And for more up-to-date vaccine news, check out The COVID Vaccine May Not Protect You From This One Thing, Experts Warn.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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