Pfizer plans to distribute 84k doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan hours after FDA approval

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One day after the U.S. reported a record number of more than 3,140 COVID-19 deaths, with 75 of those deaths in Michigan, state officials announced a prospective distribution plan of approximately 84,825 doses of the Pfizer vaccine within the first shipment, The Detroit Free Press reports.

When Michigan might see the first round of vaccines is uncertain as both major vaccine candidates — Pfizer and Moderna — have yet to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. When approved, Michigan is estimated to receive 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, as well.

However, an emergency use authorization could be put into place as early as next week, meaning the vaccine could be used “in non-clinical settings” without full FDA approval. Once authorized, Michigan could receive shipments “within hours.” The Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses three weeks apart, could distribute doses for 20 million Americans in December.

A government advisory panel convened Thursday to determine whether to move forward on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution in the U.S. Meanwhile, officials in Canada, as well as those in the U.K., have already given the green light to the vaccine. In Canada, inoculation could begin next week — before the U.S.

There are other challenges ahead for the Pfizer vaccine when it comes to storage, shipping, and distribution, as the vaccine requires below-freezing temperatures. Though Pfizer developed a temperature-controlled dry-ice method for safe shipping, the vaccine can be stored for up to 24 hours at less frigid temps. (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit or room temp for less than two hours.)
Currently, in Michigan, 48 hospitals and 12 local health departments are equipped with proper storage capabilities.

During a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the formation of a non-partisan commission, to “help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines.” The Protect Michigan Commission will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy Director, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin, and others.

“Right now, we are on the brink of great breakthroughs when it comes to an effective COVID-19 vaccine and we must begin to educate Michiganders about how important it is that we all get vaccinated so we can eradicate this virus once and for all,” Whitmer said in a release.

Dr. Khaldun also spoke and ensured that Michigan's first priority when determining who should get the first rounds of vaccines will be the state's nearly 600,000 frontline healthcare workers who are necessary in the fight and treatment of COVID-19, followed by those who live and work in longterm care facilities, like nursing homes.

“As we get more vaccines, we will be able to offer the vaccine to more and more people,” Dr. Khaldun said. “including other essential workers, people with underlying medical conditions, and people over the age of 65. We hope by spring we will be able to offer the vaccine to the general public.”

According to clinical trials, Pfizer's vaccine has been reported to be 95% effective.

This week, Michigan surpassed 415,200 confirmed cases and 10,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started in March.

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