5.9 Million Doses Of Moderna's COVID Vaccine Roll Out This Week

The second emergency-approved COVID-19 vaccine makes its way into the arms of Americans.
Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 21, 2020

Across the country, Moderna's COVID vaccines are rolling out, making their way to hospitals and care facilities, eventually into the arms of Americans.

"It was a blessing, but I can't describe it because I didn't feel anything. I really didn't. I didn't know the guy injected me," one vaccine recipient said.

UPS driver Todd Elble said his vaccine shipment was the most important load he'd hauled in his career. His parents contracted COVID-19 in November, and his 78-year-old father died.

"When I was asked to do this, I couldn't think of a better honor to do for my father than to do this today," he said.

Many hospitals, nursing homes and rural health centers across the country missed out last week because they didn't have the special ultracold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine. These Moderna doses can be kept in standard medical freezers. Plus states can order Moderna's shipments in batches as small as 100 doses at a time. With Pfizer's, the minimum order is 975. There's also more of Moderna to go around — 5.9 million doses, compared to the 2.9 million of Pfizer sent out week one.

For some hospitals, it means thousands more doses, helping them quickly get through their front line health care workers.

"The Moderna shipment actually allows us to complete our entire vaccination process. That's why we are very eager to get the Moderna and get it as soon prior to Christmas as possible so that we gain an extra two weeks and recover. And then in January, we can start the booster," Karl Leistikow, chief operating officer of Swedish Medical Center, said. 

A new question you might have about the vaccines: Will they work for the new variant of the coronavirus that's spreading in the U.K.? Many scientists believe this new strain is not genetically different enough to slip past the vaccines.

"I don't think there has been a single variant that would be resistant to the vaccine. We can't exclude it, but it's not there now. This particular variant in the U.K., I think, is very unlikely to have escaped the vaccine immunity," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said. 

Experts say it will still be months before individuals can schedule a visit to their primary care doctor for a COVID vaccine, but as more doses roll out, the next step in the process becomes clearer. The CDC has OK'd the next group in line — adults 75 and older and frontline essential workers. Younger, healthy Americans are looking at getting their shot by June of 2021. Lindsey Theis, Newsy, Denver.