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How will the COVID-19 vaccine get to Utah’s hospitals?

Dec 14, 2020, 7:16 AM | Updated: 9:05 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Five major hospitals in Utah are getting ready to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. But how will the vaccines make it there?  

The exact details of how and when the vaccines will arrive at the hospitals are not yet public. However, UPS and FedEx did give a peek into the process during a US Senate hearing last week. 

The rival companies are teaming up to ship the COVID-19 vaccine across the country, including to Utah. 

FedEx Executive Vice President Richard Smith told senators that this is not the first time they have shipped vaccines on a mass scale. 

“We have years of experience in this area, shipping flu vaccines every flu season,” Smith said. “As well as transporting over 80 million vaccine doses to combat H1N1 in 2009.”

UPS Global Healthcare President Wes Wheeler said Pfizer has built special storage containers, which can store its vaccine at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. 

He also believes UPS is ready to make those deliveries.

“[The] capacity has been reserved in our air network,” Wheeler said. “Our 3,000 US-based pilots will know they are carrying vaccines. Our trailers will have escorts.” 

Although FedEx will be responsible for shipping the vaccine to the western half of the United States, UPS has already sent out needed medical supplies, like syringes, across the country. 

Both FedEx and UPS have developed radio and Bluetooth-enabled trackers that have been placed on every shipping container. 

 

Wheeler believes this will help keep the vaccines safe from thieves. 

“Staff have been trained to monitor and, if required, intervene and recover a vaccine package,” Wheeler said. 

The trackers can also tell if the vaccines are getting too warm. Wheeler said that will reduce the risk of spoilage. 

But how will the companies be able to ship thousands of COVID-19 vaccines during the busy holiday season? 

Smith said they have hired 70,000 people recently. They have also been planning for this for months. 

“Just as we do for any surge event, whether it’s peak season [or] a new iPhone release,” Smith said. “We plan for things like this regularly. Maybe not on this scale, with all the ins and outs, but we are well versed in this type of planning.” 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

 

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How will the COVID-19 vaccine get to Utah’s hospitals?