COVID-19 vaccines en route to KC metro

Posted at 4:33 PM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 18:49:14-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City metro is expected to receive its first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine later this week.

It's a turning point in the fight against the virus, as the vaccine is being shipped from several distribution centers identified by Operation Warp Speed.

Kansas anticipates receiving 150,000 doses of the vaccine, and Missouri 339,000 by the end of the week.

"Probably on Monday or Tuesday we will be getting the vaccine, and then starting Wednesday or Thursday getting it to localities where they can start giving immunizations into people’s arms," Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said.

Frontline workers at metro hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities in the metro will receive the vaccine first.

FedEx is tackling the western half of the United States and UPS the eastern half.

"Our goal is to move COVID-19 vaccine shipments as safely and quickly as possible," said Richard W. Smith, regional president, Americas and executive vice president of global support, FedEx Express. "We want to get them to the communities in need as fast as we can."

But shipping the vaccine has its challenges. The Pfizer vaccine needs be to stored at 94-degrees below zero. While transporting the vaccine, FedEx is using deep-freeze coolers.

Pharmacies will administer the vaccine to nursing homes and senior living facilities.

"This is a process that is not new for us," Latty Merlo, CEO of CVS, said. "We have serviced long-term care facilities for many years now, as you think about conducting clinics for the seasonal flu shot."

But there’s a lot of secrecy concerning when the vaccine will be shipped to the metro and where it will be stored -- and that's for security reasons.

"They’re not real enthusiastic about saying where they are, strategic stockpiles are, nor are we saying a lot about where they will arrive in the state of Kansas or the state of Missouri," Norman said, "and the reason is just operation security. We want to keep our strategic stockpiles kind of under wraps a little bit just so it doesn’t cause a lot of public attention."