CDC director signs off on Pfizer's COVID vaccine, first shipments leave Michigan facility

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
By 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccine for use in the U.S. as the first shipments of the vaccine rolled out of a manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, kicking off a months-long effort to get millions of Americans immunized.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Sunday that he had accepted a recommendation by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Saturday night, clearing the way for the vaccine to be administered across the U.S. to people 16 and older.

In a statement, Redfield said: "Last night, I was proud to sign the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation to use Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in people 16 and older. This official CDC recommendation follows Friday’s FDA decision to authorize the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the U.S., CDC’s recommendation comes at a critical time. Initial COVID-19 vaccination is set to start as early as Monday, and this is the next step in our efforts to protect Americans, reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy to our lives and our country."

Although the advisory committee voted to recommend use of Pfizer's vaccine Saturday, it could not be administered until Redfield accepted the recommendation.

The first vaccines shipped Sunday, which were packed in dry ice, will go from the Pfizer manufacturing facility to UPS and FedEx hubs before heading out to 636 locations nationwide this week. The first shipments were set to arrive at 145 distribution centers Monday and another 425 sites on Tuesday. The final 66 sites will receive it on Wednesday.

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. (
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. ( Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images

About 3 million doses are expected to be delivered initially, with priority going to health care workers and nursing home residents—those among the most at risk of catching the virus, which has infected about 16 million people and killed nearly 300,000 in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee on Saturday voted to recommend use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 and older. Vaccines cannot be administered until CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield accepts the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' recommendation.

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Gus Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said Saturday that he expected the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to arrive Monday morning at sites across the U.S.

“Make no mistake, distribution has begun,” Perna said at a press conference. “Right now, boxes are being packed and loaded with vaccine, with emphasis on quality control.”

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images

“This is a monumental week for us all as we distribute the first millions of doses of vaccines to the American people,” Perna added. “But each week that follows, we will have more doses ready for allocation and distribution. We are also posturing to phase in the Moderna vaccine if they receive an EUA.”

The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday night, following an advisory panel's recommendation on Thursday that the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks for individuals 16 and over.

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan. Photo credit Morry Gash - Pool/Getty Images

LISTEN NOW on the RADIO.COM App
Follow RADIO.COM
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram