MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a major development in the race to get a COVID-19 vaccine approved. Drugmaker Pfizer is requesting emergency use authorization for its vaccine today.

John Lauritsen shows us what that means for vaccine distribution here in Minnesota.

“We couldn’t have a better Christmas than knowing this vaccine is coming our way. And it is,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

With drug manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna planning to distribute 50 million doses by the end of the year, Minnesota lawmakers say plans for vaccine distribution need to begin now.

“This isn’t typical, Washington politics. This is about getting the vaccine out to all of you,” Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar is asking for federal assistance to help businesses through the rest of the pandemic, and to help transport, store and administer the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at negative-103 degrees, meaning freezers will be essential.

Central McGowan, in St. Paul, is a dry ice company preparing to help protect the vaccine. They make 1,500 pounds of dry ice an hour.

As they get ready, hospitals and clinics wait for federal guidelines on how to distribute it to all Minnesotans. Dr. Ana Nunez, a University of Minnesota professor of medicine, says logistics are key.

“Do we take it to the Minneapolis Convention Center? To the airport? How do we get it to a parking lot in Luverne?”

Frontline health care workers will be the first to get it, and then people who are vulnerable to Covid-19. But within months, health experts say the general population could get vaccinated, which is why planning now is critical.

“This is our time to get it right and come together. All of us. In terms of what makes sense here,” said Dr. Nunez.

Pfizer and Moderna hope to have more than a billion doses available by the end of 2021.

Each of their vaccines will require two doses, spread out by a couple weeks.

John Lauritsen

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