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Pfizer intends to use Pleasant Prairie facility to ship and store COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective
Posted at 3:02 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 23:37:58-05

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — As part of Pfizer's colossal effort to distribute doses of its COVID-19 vaccine across the country, the pharmaceutical corporation intends to in part use its distribution facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. to store and ship the vaccine to where it is needed.

Pfizer Global confirmed to TMJ4 News in an email Thursday that the company plans to ship most of the doses from its facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan to where they are needed. But they will also rely on an existing distribution center in Pleasant Prairie to store doses, and that those doses will have their own designated part of the country from which the facility will ship them to.

After revealing that its vaccine prototype was 90 percent effective during tests on Monday, Pfizer is now preparing the massive effort to ship those doses across the country, NBC News reported this week. Pfizer plans to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization next week, according to the report.

The effort will require new technologies to work flawlessly in order to safely deliver the drugs, including keeping the vaccines at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The majority of the vaccines will then be packed for delivery at the Michigan plant, but also at the Pleasant Prairie distribution facility, where the doses will be placed below dry ice inside thermal containers.

From there the vaccines, contained in packages with 1,000 to 5,000 doses, will be shipped via air to areas where the vaccines will be given to patients. Those areas include clinics, special vaccination facilities and pharmacies, a Pfizer spokesperson tells NBC News.

Once the doses are delivered, they can be stored in low-temperature freezers for up to six months, inside a refrigeration unit for up to five days or be kept in the original package for up to 15 days, as long as the package is refilled with new dry ice.

“We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring,” the Pfizer spokesperson, Kim Bencker, tells NBC New. “Our distribution is built on a flexible just-in-time system, which will ship the frozen vials to the point of vaccination.”

Nathan Thiel, the Village Administrator of 21,000-person Pleasant Prairie, discussed the new development.

"We're very pleased that we're a part of a solution to a global problem," said Thiel.

Thiel said he has known about the plan for months.

"We're excited they chose us as a location back in 2004. So we've just had the fortunate role to continue to work with them," he said.

People in the county also take pride in knowing the Wisconsin distribution center will serve a big role in facilitating the vaccine.

"I think that they made a good choice for picking this area," said Diana Benavidez, a Burlington resident.

Kim and Jeff Hofer said they are a little more optimistic about the end of the pandemic.

"I think it's pretty amazing that we have a piece of history right here," Kim Hofer said.

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