Governor Cuomo Explains “Complicated Distribution Process” for Pfizer Vaccine, Requires Two Doses 21 Days Apart

In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled details on the new Pfizer vaccine, which the Governor says is scheduled for “very aggressive distribution” in the coming weeks.  “This is the weapon that wins the COVID war, and we have to get serious about this,” Cuomo remarked at the briefing.   

The Governor did identify vaccination as a decision for individuals to make, but says currently, 50% of the population is skeptical of the new vaccine.  According to the Governor, 75% vaccination across New York State is the benchmark set by scientists for efficacy.  He added, “I would never ask anyone in the state to take a vaccine that I was unwilling to take myself.”

“You will have parents asking their family: what do you think, should I take it or not?  You’ll have healthcare staff deciding whether or not they should take it,” Cuomo said at Thursday’s press briefing.

Explaining the “complicated” process, Governor Cuomo unveiled a distribution box, demonstrating how the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped and stored.  “The package itself comes with a geo-tracking or a GPS tracking device that can track the program, and a thermal monitor, so it monitors the temperature of the package.  You want to know where the package is and the package stays at the right temp.”

  • The boxes themselves are lined with dry ice, as the enclosed vaccination vials require freezing temperatures. 
  • Each vial contains a total of 5 doses.
  • Those doses are extracted after the vial is thawed for 30 minutes and a dilutant is added. The separated doses then stand for 2 hours, to where after, you have 6 hours to administer the vaccine.
  • The doses themselves are carried on five trays fitting into the package.
  • Each tray contains 195 vials.
  • Each distribution box contains roughly 5,000 doses.
  • Each box can only be opened twice a day for 60 – 90 seconds each time.

Governor Cuomo added that after receiving one vaccination, you would have to return 21 days later for a second dose. “The vaccine isn’t really effective until after the second dosage,” he said.

According to the Governor, vaccinations are scheduled first for frontline workers, beginning with nursing home facilities. Then to minority communities throughout the state, which the Governor says have endured higher rates of infection and mortality from COVID-19.