CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s not just the COVID-19 vaccine itself that needs to be distributed.

Hospitals will need an influx of medical supplies to inject the doses and a temperature-controlled place to store it all.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports on how local companies are playing a role.

CBS 2 has been combing through Department of Defense contracts to see which companies will be providing which supplies and CBS 2 is asking: Are they on track?

Millions of vials of a COVID-19 vaccine would be useless without enough syringes to deliver the precious doses.

That’s where Northfield-based Medline Industries, the largest privately owned manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment, will be stepping in.

The CBS 2 Investigators have confirmed that the company is one of seven nationwide now contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense to produce syringes and safety needles.

And Medline received $6 million to make it happen.

How many syringes will they pump out and will they be ready in time? A Medline spokesperson referred CBS 2 to the Department of Defense to answer those questions.

CBS 2 requested a copy of the contract from DOD back in September. There has been no response.

Another company with Chicagoland ties is Texas-based McKesson Corporation, which received $568 million to manage the assembly and distribution of supply kits needed to administer the vaccine.

McKesson has several Chicago-area offices and distribution locations including Elgin and Glendale Heights. And each kit will include enough supplies to administer up to 100 doses of vaccine.

And then there’s cold storage, which is essential.

One DHL cold-chain facility near O’Hare already stores other vaccines at sub freezing temps and DHL told CBS News last month that it has been in talks with various manufacturers about what it would need to do to house a much anticipated COVID-19 vaccines.

CBS 2 reached out to DHL and Health and Human Services about any storage contracts in our area. A DHL spokesperson released a statement regarding its facilities:

“Three of the four DHL divisions – DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Supply Chain – are working with different vaccine manufacturers on various aspects transporting, storage and distribution of their vaccines to the U.S. and globally. However, we can’t disclose details right now because we are still in the process of finalizing those contracts. And in some cases we may have signed confidentiality agreements.”

HHS said it doesn’t expect a need for large storage facilities outside of vaccine manufacturing sites. The Department plans to used a phased distribution approach, and expects states and healthcare providers will be able to quickly distribute one round of vaccines before receiving their next allocation.

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Megan Hickey