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All Eyes Were On The Trucks Carrying The First Coronavirus Vaccine Shipments In The US

The first COVID-19 vaccine shipments left Pfizer's Michigan facility on Sunday and are on their way to all 50 states as the coronavirus death toll in the US nears 300,000.

Posted on December 13, 2020, at 2:17 p.m. ET

Jeff Kowalsky / Getty Images

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine set to be distributed to all 50 states in the US left Pfizer's facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday morning, at a pivotal moment in the pandemic that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.

The shipments, which are expected to reach every state on Monday, began two days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine following an overwhelming 17–4 vote of confidence from an advisory panel of independent experts.

The first shipments of the vaccine are expected to arrive at 145 distribution sites across the US on Monday, federal officials said. Another 425 sites will receive shipments on Tuesday, and the remaining 66 will get them on Wednesday.

The vaccine offers much-needed hope in battling what has been a devastating crisis for the US, even as the country approaches a grim milestone and is bracing for what public health experts have predicted is going to be a very difficult winter.

Photos and videos provided an inside look at Pfizer's workers carefully packing up the vaccines and loading them on to the trucks at the facility early Sunday morning.

RIGHT NOW: @pfizer is packing up its vaccine. In each box, there's a GPS and thermal sensor. @FedEx trucks are seen outside of the facility near Kalamazoo, MI. @UPS will also handle shipments: ▪️145 sites across all states tomorrow ▪️Another 425 sites Tues. ▪️Final 66 sites Wed.

And just like that the first truck is loaded with pallets of #COVID19 vaccines at the @Pfizer facility in Portage, Michigan. These first shipments should start arriving at their destination by tomorrow. via @CBSNews ➡ @10TampaBay

The two freight trucks departing from Pfizer's facility were carrying around 184,275 vials of the vaccine with healthcare workers and nursing home residents first in line to get the shots. There are five doses of vaccine per vial. Pfizer workers are preparing to ship out an additional 3,900 vials later on Sunday, while 390,000 vials will be shopped on Monday, CNN reported.

Morry Gash / AP

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped.

Workers at Pfizer's facility on Sunday morning took a moment to clap for the historic moment as the first boxes of the vaccine were being loaded on to the trucks.

Morry Gash / AP

The vials were stored in containers filled with dry ice to ensure that they will remain at -94 degrees Fahrenheit — as the vaccine's mRNA molecules break down at room temperature.

Morry Gash / Getty Images

A worker pours dry ice into boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The trucks carrying the first shipments of the vaccine were escorted by the US Marshals Service.

Breaking - UPS and FedEx trucks carrying the first U.S. shipment of coronavirus vaccine have left Pfizer’s facility near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Jeff Kowalsky / Getty Images

People cheered as the trucks carrying the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine left Pfizer's Global Supply facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Dec. 13.

Rey Del Rio / Getty Images

A UPS worker hooks a truck to a trailer containing shipments of the vaccine at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan, on Dec. 13.

Rey Del Rio / Getty Images

Shipments of the vaccine are loaded into a UPS plane at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan.

FedEx and UPS said Sunday that the vaccine shipments had arrived at their central facilities from where they will be delivered to distribution sites such as hospitals and other centers that have the capability to store the vaccines at the required temperature.

Wheels down in Memphis. From here, our team members will use our integrated air and ground network to ensure the vaccines are delivered safely to destinations across the U.S.

The first flight of COVID-19 vaccines has landed at our Worldport facility, where they will be sorted and distributed as early as tomorrow. We’re proud to support our healthcare partners with smart, efficient logistics to #deliverwhatmatters most.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.