PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Pfizer's Pleasant Prairie facility could be an advantage for getting a COVID-19 vaccine distributed to people in Wisconsin, according to one of the Milwaukee area’s top doctors.
Preparations are underway across Wisconsin after the first shipment of Pfizer's vaccine landed at O'Hare International Airport on Monday.
How soon the vaccine is rolled out depends on approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is expected to consider Pfizer's application for emergency use authorization on December 10.
"My understanding is that the first shipment came yesterday from Europe and should be being stored there as we speak," said Dr. John Raymond, President/CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Pfizer's vaccine, one of many that could help combat the pandemic, is at the drugmaker's Pleasant Prairie site.
Dr. Raymond believes it is one of Pfizer's two vaccine distribution centers in the country.
"I'm not sure that that's going to give us an advantage in terms of the number of vaccines available per capita, that’ll be determined in consultation with Operation Warp Speed, but at least it'll be easier for us to get that ultracold chain distribution here in Wisconsin," said Dr. Raymond.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has specific storage requirements that include ultra-low temperature freezers.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines Wisconsin gets, in general, depends on population. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is already working on logistics.
"We here in Wisconsin are working with a number of what we are calling hubs around the state. They are predominately folks who have access to the deep freeze that is necessary for storage of the Pfizer vaccine and then we'll further distribute from those locations out to other parts of the state," said Health Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm.
Milwaukee Health Department leaders said they have convened their planning team and applied to be a vaccinator for COVID-19.
"There are lots of logistics to be worked out and challenges that we are in the process of working through so that when the vaccine hits our door we are ready and comfortable and confident that what we're doing and how we're doing it is going to be safe and effective for the public," said interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson.
State health officials are waiting on final recommendations on priority use. They anticipate healthcare workers will be at the top of the list.
Dr. Raymond pointed out that no single drug company will be able to meet short-term demand and the country will need hundreds of millions of vaccines.
TMJ4 News reached out to Pfizer multiple times but did not get a response.