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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at temperatures well below freezing, and while large, urban hospitals are rushing to buy expensive ultra-cold freezers to store it, many rural hospitals can't afford them, STAT reports.

The big picture: A review of states' vaccine distribution plans found that many aren't ready to deal with the challenge of delivering the shots, per ProPublica.

  • Health officials also must navigate the fact that Pfizer is expected to deliver the shots in boxes holding 1,000 to 5,000 doses.
  • Needing to quickly administer this many doses "could rule out sending the vaccine to providers who don’t treat that many people, even doctors' offices in cities," ProPublica reports.
  • "It's especially challenging in smaller towns, rural areas and Native communities on reservations that are likely to struggle to administer that many doses quickly or to maintain them at ultracold temperatures."

The bottom line: "Early, when we don’t have lots of doses, I frankly do not anticipate that vaccine will be widely available in every rural community," Amanda Cohn, chief medical officer for the CDC's Vaccine Task Force, said during a call on vaccine implementation earlier this month, per ProPublica.

Go deeper

Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment"

Moncef Slaoui in the Rose Garden on Nov. 13. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "isolated from a political environment" and that a change in administration "doesn't, frankly, make a difference" on its efficacy.

Why it matters: Slaoui told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he has not yet had contact with Joe Biden's transition team, as the president-elect prepares to inherit one of the country's biggest crises ahead of an expected vaccine distribution effort that would require massive logistical cooperation between states and the federal government.

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to continue quarantine after receiving negative COVID test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Sunday that a previously inconclusive coronavirus test came back negative, but she will continue to follow CDC guidelines and self-isolate until she's able to get a more conclusive negative result.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

California governor and family in quarantine after coronavirus exposure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted late Sunday that he and his family are quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19.

Details: Newsom said they learned Friday that three of his children had come into contact with a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the coronavirus. "Thankfully, the entire family tested negative today," Newsom said.