As vaccines ship in U.S., Minnesota preps distribution hubs

State health officials say doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have yet to reach Minnesota, but health systems are preparing to receive the shipments in the coming days.

Cargo planes full of COVID-19 vaccines landed at UPS’s Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky Sunday. There, the vaccines will be sorted and delivered to more than 600 locations nationwide.

Metro Regional Hospital Preparedness Coordinator Jonathan Bundt says once the shipments land in Minnesota, they’ll be going to regional hubs for distribution.

“Larger healthcare systems will have their own hub, but some individual standing hospitals are their own hub and, in turn, we’re setting up processes for EMS and non-affiliated clinics,” said Bundt.

Centra Care Health Systems is acting as a hub for not only their own clinics, but for healthcare settings across Central Minnesota.

“We’re working with those independent hospitals and we’re saying here’s where the vaccine will be, you can come and get it and you need to bring along dry ice or cold storage and start vaccinating your staff,” said Dr. George Morris, of Centra Care.

Morris says they’re still waiting for final instructions from Pfizer, but they’ve been training staff based on what they know and think they’ll be ready to administer within a day or two of receiving the vaccine.

“Wednesday, Thursday is what we’re expecting so we expect to be immunizing people by the weekend,” said Morris.

Bundt says he feels ready as his team has been planning and coordinating for this moment for more than a month.

“They’ll send out a message, schedule a time for your vaccination and it’s pretty straight forward,” said Bundt. “So it’s not just somebody walks up and says I need to be vaccinated. There’s a very clear strategy on how to do that.”

Locations for those hubs where the vaccine will be sent are not being disclosed for security reasons.