Pfizer vaccine shipments arrive in Berrien County

NOW: Pfizer vaccine shipments arrive in Berrien County

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Ten months after the start of the pandemic, a coronavirus vaccine has arrived, as Pfizer ships off vessels across the country from their plant in Kalamazoo – just north of Berrien County.

“In healthcare it feels like we’ve moved from being just on the defensive to being on the offensive side of this, we now have the tools necessary to beat the virus,” said Dr. Loren Hamel, MD, President & Chief Strategy Officer at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

Michigan will receive 85,000 vessels in this first round, which will start being administered to health care workers this week – who are first on the distribution list set by the Department of Health and Human Services.

‘We’ll be able to start distributing that vaccine to the priority groups, then our pharmacy partners will start vaccinating long term care residents and we will be assisting with that as well as EMS personnel in Berrien County,” said Gillian Conrad, MPH, Communications Manager at the Berrien County Health Department.

On the horizon, a second vaccine from Moderna – expected to also get emergency authorization from the FDA.

Berrien County health officials are prepared for this monumental step, but say no matter how old the message may feel, we still have yet to emerge from this deadly pandemic.

“We’re not going to be able to rip our masks off and start gathering in mass groups come January, we’re going to have to keep up with preventative efforts especially in light of the fact that we’re surpassing records with numbers of new cases and deaths across the country,” said Conrad.

Due to the Pfizer vaccine needing to be stored at incredibly low temperatures and the sheer volume of vessels being delivered, they will be stored at Spectrum Health – which will have nearly 5,000 by the end of the week.

Lakeland Hospital plans to vaccinate its first staff member later this week.

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