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How logistics are impacting vaccine distribution

A University of Memphis professor breaks down the challenges in the vaccine rollout.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — It’s been about a month since COVID-19 vaccines first landed in Memphis, but most are still wondering when will it be their turn to take the injection.   

Between manufacturing then distribution, getting the vaccine can be drawn out.   

The vaccine distribution in Tennessee has been, to plainly put it, slow.   

“From the consumer’s perspective, Rebecca, it’s when am I going to get it,” said Ernie Nichols, a supply chain management professor at the University of Memphis.   

Nichols said there are multiple steps to getting the vaccine into your arm.   

First is the delivery system.

“Once the vaccine is produced and available the supply partners, McKesson, FedEx, will be actually bringing it out to different locations,” said Nichols.

The vaccination process varies from state to state.

The federal government indicates how many vaccines each state receives. Also the state determines how many goes to the counties.

Nichols explains one of the largest challenges at the moment is the actual production of the vaccine.   

“This is unprecedented in terms of development cycle but once you have a proven vaccine like we do with the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine you still have to have the actual product.”  

This leaves pharmaceutical companies needing to adapt quickly.   

“These companies are in the process of either adding manufacturing capacity within their own organization or qualifying outside partners that are qualified to produce the vaccine.”  

So where does that leave you? Those under 75 and not in the immediate priority group? Still in the waiting game.   

“The biggest issue is being patient. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a bit of tunnel to have to go through,” Nichols said.

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