UW Health, SSM Health to serve as distribution hubs for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

MADISON, Wis. — Even though the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has yet to be given emergency authorization by the FDA, UW Health says it will serve as a regional distribution hub for the vaccine once it is approved.

SSM Health will also serve as a regional distribution hub for the Pfizer vaccine, according to SSM Health Regional Communications Director Kim Sveum. Although SSM Health representatives said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has not chosen which of the three Wisconsin locations the health care system offered up will be used as storage sites.

UW Health says it is preparing to serve as a central storage facility for the region’s supply of the vaccine, and will work with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to distribute the vaccine to hospitals and long-term care facilities in the area.

“We are proud to play a role in helping our partners in the area get vaccine doses they need to protect their frontline workers as fast as possible so we can get on to the next group of people to be vaccinated,” UW Health senior medical director of ambulatory operations Matt Anderson said in a statement.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires storage at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, which led to the Wisconsin DHS designating several “hubs” for vaccine distribution, allowing the vaccines to be stored in one central location and shipped out to nearby hospitals for use.

Frontline health workers and those considered most at-risk for COVID-19 will be the first to be vaccinated.

The CDC says it could be awhile, even possibly until the summer, before the general public could be vaccinated. In the meantime, national and local health officials are urging everyone to avoid traveling for the holiday season, continue wearing masks, stay 6 feet away from other people and frequently wash their hands until large amounts of the population are vaccinated.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be given an emergency use authorization by the FDA when the agency meets on Thursday.