LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky is once again a major factor in the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
At 12:10 pm, an otherwise unmarked brown UPS 18-wheeler left a distribution warehouse in Shepherdsville and made the short drive to the UPS Worldport at Louisville's airport. Its only discernable difference from the scores of other company big rigs that traverse Kentucky's interstates was a state police escort.
At 12:37 pm, the escort peeled off as the driver delivered an undisclosed number of vials, filled with the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
From there, Capt. Alyse Adkins prepared to fly a shipment to another part of the eastern seaboard.
"I’m grateful to be part of this opportunity," Adkins said in an interview with Spectrum News 1.
She did not anticipate delivering such important cargo when she joined the fleet six years ago.
"I think it really puts it into perspective for me. Obviously, I went to school to be a pilot, and that in itself is the most amazing career choice, in my opinion. But, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would fly a life-saving vaccine."
In December, the Worldport handled eastern shipments of the Pfizer vaccine — the nation's first FDA-approved injection. Its chief competitor FedEx flew missions to the west. Then came a similar rollout for Moderna's doses. Now, Louisville again gains the spotlight. With UPS being such a large employer in the area, many Kentucky families have had a hand in this fight.
"It’s all been coming through UPS," said company spokesperson Michelle Polk. "So I think Louisville can take so much pride in knowing that themselves or family members have been a part, and instrumental to really delivering the US past this moment."
Citing security reasons, UPS has been tight-lipped about the particulars of this shipment. Polk does not know or would not say how many doses arrived in the initial shipment, nor their final destination.
But, for the third time in three months, Louisville helped bring a life-saving scientific marvel to the rest of the country.
And more doses are on the way.