Iceland received its first 1,200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shortly before 8.00am this morning, RÚV reports. The vaccines arrived via an Icelandair cargo flight from Belgium. The doses will be used to complete vaccination of frontline workers in the Reykjavík capital area.
The doses have now been transported to drug distributor Distica’s headquarters in Garðabær, where specialists will inspect so-called thermograms in the packaging to ensure the material has not been damaged in transport. “We read a thermogram to check the measurements of thermometers that accompany the material all the way,” explains Distica CEO Júlía Rós Atladóttir. Distica will send their thermogram readings to Moderna, who must give the final go-ahead before vaccination can begin.
Doses Go to Frontline Workers
Capital area health clinics are scheduled to begin administering the vaccine tomorrow to paramedics and police officers who work in frontline positions, as well as employees of official quarantine hotels. The Moderna vaccines must be stored at -15-25°C throughout transport, significantly warmer than the -80°C required to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines. Two and a half hours before they are administered, the Moderna vaccines are transferred to a temperature of 2-8°C (the temperature of a standard refrigerator), and they are stored at room temperature for 15 minutes before they are finally administered.
Iceland received its first 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on December 28 last year, from manufacturer Pfizer, and vaccination began on December 29. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines must be administered in two doses, though the time between doses varies. The Pfizer vaccines are administered with a 19-23 day gap, while Moderna’s two doses are administered 28 days apart.
Those Over 70 Next in Line
Icelandic authorities expect to receive 38,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March, which will be used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers and residents over 70 years of age. Those under 70 can expect to wait at least until April for their shots. Icelandic authorities have already ensured access to enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate the entire nation, though when those doses will arrive in Iceland remains unclear. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist has stated that the nation is unlikely to achieve herd immunity through vaccination before the second half of this year.