Special delivery: NC hospital delivering vaccines via drone


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The country’s first COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery program is getting started in North Carolina.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist has partnered with Innovation Quarter, iQ Healthtech Labs and UPS to deliver COVID-19 vaccines using drones to the health system’s family medicine practices, the health system said.

Atrium Health Wake Forest said using the UPS Flight Forward-operated drone allows the health system to quickly deliver the vaccines. Speed is important given the temperature-sensitive nature of the vaccines.

The drones are outfitted with special cargo boxes that allow the vaccines to stay between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. They also have a built-in temperature monitor.

Dr. Jennifer Tryon, chief pharmacy officer at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, said in a statement, “The ability to use a temperature monitoring device for our COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery program also opens the door for us to transport additional items which require maintenance of the cold chain.”

Tryon said they have already done multiple test flights. The inaugural flight takes off Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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