MIAMI (CBSMiami) – DHL planes are ready to take flight to deliver the first COVID vaccine vials to South Florida, arriving as early as Friday, Dec. 11.
“It is a combination of excitement and trepidation. You don’t want to fail,” said Larry St. Onge, president of DHL’s Life Sciences and Healthcare division.
He said the shipping giant is used to handling vaccines that require low temperatures.
The Pfizer vaccine, which is the first seeking FDA approval for emergency use, needs to be stored in a temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It takes planning and precision to deliver,” he said.
DHL has refrigerated cargo containers located near Miami international Airport, where the vaccine will be stored after the planes land.
“We create a warehouse within a warehouse with dedicated doors so trucks can back up. So there’s never a chance to go out of temperature stability,” St. Onge explained.
Once the vaccine is greenlighted for emergency use, and is on the ground in South Florida, it will be trucked to Jackson Health and the Memorial Regional Healthcare System in Broward.
Two of five designated Florida Hospitals getting the vaccine will first distribute it to frontline health care workers.
Once delivered, the vaccine can be kept up to five days in a refrigerator. Out of the fridge, it has to be used within six hours.
South Florida Walgreens pharmacies and CVS stores are also getting ready to receive shipments of the COVID vaccine for use at long-term care facilities, where the residents are most at risk.