Highlight on Mid-South distribution as second vaccine on verge of approval

Olive Branch facility to play role in Moderna vaccine distribution

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continues, and the number of vaccinated people rises, all eyes are on the next round. The Moderna vaccine which, like the Pfizer vaccine, has a 95 percent efficacy rate, will likely start arriving at health care facilities in the Mid-South next week.

The supply chain of how it gets there has a big focus on Mississippi and Tennessee. McKesson, which has locations in Olive Branch, said once it gets the vaccines, workers will get them ready for shipment with one of their partners, which includes FedEx.

The Mid-South's role in Moderna vaccine rollout

“The scope of the supply chain is complex, but it’s something we’re well prepared for,” Consulting economist John Gnuschke said.

McKesson has said it’s added more than 1,000 jobs for the vaccine rollout.

“It just shows Memphis has an extremely important role to play in fighting this pandemic,” Gnuschke said.

McKesson would not comment on where the Moderna vaccine is being housed awaiting approval. However, weeks before the approval of the first vaccine, Governor Tate Reeves said the Olive Branch locations would play a role.

“The Moderna vaccine utilizing a contract that is already in existence between the CDC and McKesson. I want you to know that McKesson will distribute this vaccine out of four facilities in America. Two in and around Louisville, Kentucky and two in and around Olive Branch, Mississippi,” Reeves said

Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs expects the first Moderna doses to be shipped on Sunday. Tennessee is expected to have 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by Monday.

“I think it’s important to remember here the Moderna vaccine will come in multiple allotments and that starts as we understand on Monday,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said.

The Shelby County Health Department is on deck to receive the Moderna vaccine as well as long-term care facilities and the rest of Tennessee’s hospitals, which are mainly in rural areas.

“Plus or minus 40 hospitals which didn’t get Pfizer because [the Moderna vaccine] is a little bit easier or a whole lot easier to transport,” Piercey said.

Piercey said some of the first 5,000 doses will be held by the state in case of an emergency, which you’ll remember Governor Bill Lee got some push back for doing with the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

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