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UPS Inc. began shipping out its first batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines March 2, now that the single-dose vaccine for the coronavirus has emergency use authorization.
Atlanta-based UPS said the vaccine packages were being flown from its Worldport air hub in Louisville, Ky., to sorting facilities in other parts of the country, then loaded onto UPS trucks for delivery starting the morning of March 2.
This is the third vaccine UPS is shipping, in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines authorized since December. UPS and Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Express are splitting the shipments of vaccines allocated by the federal government.
UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said in a written statement that the company is monitoring all of its vaccine shipments with temperature recorders and tracking tags, and “delivering with near-perfect on-time performance.”
UPS driver Juliett Watson prepares to head out with a truckload of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. (NBC News/YouTube)
The shipping giant said its temperature-controlled facilities and monitoring technology are designed to handle biologically derived drugs such as vaccines.
President Joe Biden’s administration will allocate 15.2 million Pfizer and Moderna doses for shipment next week to states, tribes and territories, up from 14.5 million a week earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said March 2.
The government also announced that 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson shots will be sent to states, marking the first time it has shown how it will divide an initial tranche of the newly authorized one-dose shots. The Johnson & Johnson supply is expected to fall in the next week before ramping up toward the end of March.
The U.S. received an initial stockpile of 3.9 million Johnson & Johnson doses. About 820,000 Johnson & Johnson shots are being made available for pharmacies to order, an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.
Biden announced that Merck & Co. will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine — a collaboration between rivals aimed at ramping up the pace of inoculations that will help provide enough supply for every adult in the U.S. by the end of May.
Biden also called for state and local governments to prioritize teachers for vaccinations, as he pushes for schools to reopen safely with full-time classroom instruction.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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