KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WXYZ) — Vaccine workers in Kalamazoo, Michigan at Pfizer are sharing their experiences and what their work truly means to them.
"Every day we fill the actual viles on a conveyor belt, and they go straight into the filling lines," said Rochelle Whiting, aseptic operator at Pfizer Global Supply.
For Pfizer employees, Rochelle Whiting and Gerric Barnes, being part of a monumental life-saving operation to mass-produce COVID-19 vaccines is the mission of a lifetime.
“It brings a lot of pride. It really does because we are trying to put life back to the way we know it,” Barnes said.
Whiting adding, “Us doing our part to help our community not just in Kalamazoo but worldwide.”
Workers at the Kalamazoo Pfizer facility's 1,300-acre site – the largest manufacturing location owned by the company – have been working extra shifts and weekends. The moment the FDA authorization is approved for emergency usage, which could happen shortly, the company is ready to begin shipping out 2.9 million doses with a second 2.9 million doses sent out 21 days later for the second round of shots.
“We’ve gone from laboratory up to commercial scale,” Barnes said.
Pfizer says their vaccine has shown a 95 percent success rate among patients. After three phases of testing, they call it "highly effective as a way to combat this devastating pandemic."
Gov. Whitmer indicating 84,000 Pfizer vaccine doses are expected to be made available in Michigan as early as next week, which is part of the first shipment to hospital workers and people in senior care facilities. Also, 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine is expected as well.
“These vaccines work, by preparing your body to fight the real virus if it comes into contact with it,” said Michigan's chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun.
The governor says it could be early spring before the general public gets the vaccine. Pfizer's workforce is up to the challenge of producing millions of more vaccines to win this battle.
“We’ve got tons of people working as hard as they can 24/7, 365 days a year to get this out the door," Pfizer worker Gerric Barnes said. "I have absolute confidence in it, and will be first to stand in line and put my family first in line.”
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.
Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.