LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A week after Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the UPS Worldport, Moderna's vaccine arrived at the facility for distribution.
"This is the important load I've hauled in my entire life," Todd Elble, a driver for UPS for decades, said.
The second COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized for use by the FDA arrived shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday, "hundreds" of boxes filled with doses hauled in by two semi-trucks, then unloaded and prepared to be shipped out to other cities around the country.
"It gives people a glimmer of hope that we're racing towards the end of the pandemic as quickly as possible," UPS Airlines Captain Mike Meyer said.
To be able to help get the vaccine out, we'll do anything possible we need to do," UPS package handler Demeatres Ralston said.
"We treat all packages like they're important, but obviously this is super exciting," handler Jesirae Elzey said.
But for many of these employees, this is not just another job assignment. Elble said his father is one of the more than 317,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus vaccine.
"My mother and father were both in the hospital with Covid and my dad passed," he said. "When I was asked to do this, I couldn't think of a better honor for my father."
UPS is continuing their vaccine delivery efforts through a partnership with global pharmaceutical and medical supply distributor McKesson.
Moderna's vaccine is similar to Pfizer one that is now being dispensed to millions of health care workers and nursing home residents as the biggest vaccination drive in U.S. history starts to ramp up.
"To combine both Pfizer and Moderna in the midst of our busiest season is a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to do what we do best, which is delivering what matters the most," UPS VP of Flight Operations Houston Mills said.
Moderna expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses available globally in the first three months of 2021, with 85-100 million of those available in the U.S.
The company has about 5.9 million doses ready for shipment beginning this weekend, according to Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine development program.
"I know there are a lot of folks, who have seen the first doctors and nurses take their vaccine shots and for us to be a part of that process through Operation Warp Speed, the public private partnership, there is a lot of pride for all of us," Mills said.