Vaccine Rollout Begins in the United States

2.9 Million Doses in Transit

The first shipments of the Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) vaccine have left manufacturing plants in the US. Now, FedEx (FDX) and the United Postal Service (UPS) are in the process of distributing the first 2.9 million doses of the vaccine to hospitals, clinics, and other vaccine administration points around the United States. Between them, FedEx and UPS have hired 170,000 additional employees to manage shipments of holiday packages and COVID-19 vaccine doses at the same time.

The vaccine distribution campaign has required shipping companies to think creatively. For example, UPS has started producing dry ice at its US facilities because the vaccine needs to be kept cold. The company is currently producing 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour. UPS has also spent the past months building “freezer farms,” which are areas near air hubs in the US and Europe where the vaccine can be stored in freezers.

Cities and States Discuss How to Pay for Vaccine Distribution

American states are expecting a battle with the Federal Government over who will pay for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. In September CDC director Robert Redfield said, “It’s going to take somewhere between $5.5 to $6 billion to distribute this vaccine.”

So far the CDC has only granted $200 million to states for vaccine distribution. While states expect another $140 million to arrive this month, that’s just a small portion of the total anticipated bill. State officials have requested a total of $8.4 billion from the Federal Government to help with the complexities of COVID-19 vaccine distribution logistics.

The Vaccine Rollout Impacts Travel Stocks

As the first doses of the vaccine were loaded into delivery vans yesterday, shares of travel and leisure companies saw gains, including cruise operators like Carnival Corp (CCL) and Royal Carribean Cruises (RCL) and theme parks like Six Flags (SIX) and SeaWorld (SEAS).

But later in the day warnings of more severe lockdowns caused cyclical stocks to tumble. Though vaccine rollout is an important step forward, in the near-term COVID-19 cases are still spiking in many parts of the country. Analysts do not expect to see 2019 travel levels return before late next year or into 2022.

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