By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – Now that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the United States, millions of doses will be shipped nationwide.

“This will be the largest vaccination effort in history. We’re essentially trying to vaccinate as many people in the commonwealth the next six to nine months,” said David Twitchell, Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer of the Boston Medical Center Health System.

According to Twitchell, BMC is prepared to receive 1,950 doses of the vaccine on Monday.

First on the list to receive the vaccine are health care workers treating COVID-19 patients and nursing home residents.

“This is a tremendous moment. Our healthcare workers have been fighting through this since the beginning of the year,” said Neil Gilchrist, Chief Pharmacy Officer at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

UMass Memorial will also receive 1950 doses this week. Health experts say proper and careful storage of the vaccine is critical.

“It requires very cold storage requirements, down to minus 70 degrees for the Pfizer vaccine,” Gilchrist said. “And so, there are several logistical challenges with how this vaccine will be delivered to the hospitals and how we need to unpackaged this and prepare this for administration to our patients and healthcare workers.”

Now that hospitals will start receiving the vaccine as early as Monday, the next big hurdle is dispersing it out strategically. The initial doses are scarce, and convincing both employees and the community that the vaccine is safe is of utmost importance.

“There is a challenge of overcoming vaccine hesitancy. We’ve got hundreds of years of well-earned skepticism in the community that we serve, that don’t trust the medical industry. We’re going to do a better job making people feel safe,” Twitchell said.

Paul Burton