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US ready for ‘immediate mass shipment’ of COVID-19 vaccines

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WASHINGTON: The US Transportation Department said Tuesday it has made preparations to enable the “immediate mass shipment” of COVID-19 vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.

The department said US agencies have been coordinating with private sector companies that will carry vaccines from manufacturing facilities to distribution centers and inoculation points.

The statement added that, over the last several weeks, Department of Transportation agencies and Operation Warp Speed officials have been coordinating with the private sector companies that will carry the vaccines from manufacturing facilities to the distribution centers and inoculation points. The Department has established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries.

At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Department worked proactively with other U.S. government agencies, air carriers, and aviation stakeholders to ensure the continued transport of critical medical supplies and personnel in support of Project Air Bridge. The Department also issued emergency regulatory relief for flight crews and other aviation entities to support uninterrupted flight operations and respond to increased air cargo demand.

Additionally, the Department has continued to support critical supply chain networks by granting a nationwide exemption to hours-of-service regulations for trucking companies and commercial drivers providing direct emergency assistance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-standing Emergency Declaration was also recently extended to support emergency transportation of vaccines and medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention of COVID-19.

It said that, in October, the “FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team” was established as part of the Department’s effort to support the safe and expedited transportation and distribution of approved COVID-19 vaccines, including providing support to Operation Warp Speed. Key to this effort has been coordination with the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials.

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