3 million COVID vaccine shots leave Chicago for Guatemala; part of US effort to share doses

American Airlines donates vaccine transportation
Three million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, cooled with gel packs, arrived at O'Hare on Tuesday from a distributor in Kentucky.

The 56 pallets of precious cargo were condensed and secured for transport, bound for Guatemala City. It's part of an effort by the United States to help other countries seeing a surge in cases.

"We are going to prevent the death of our Guatemalan citizens and we are going to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Ivonne Sanchez, Vice Consul for the Consulate General of Guatemala.

American Airlines donated transportation for the transfer of vaccine from the United States to Guatemala.

"The 777-300 is one of our largest planes and it also has the most capacity cargo-wise," said Dennis Wagner, American Airlines, GM of Cargo Operations. "It's a really special day. We are able to make a difference in a number of lives, especially those in Guatemala who don't have the opportunity to get the vaccine like we do here."

This is second time America Airlines donated its services to fly vaccine to Guatemala. Earlier this month, they flew 1.5 million doses to Guatemala City.

There were no passengers on this flight - only 63,000 pounds of vaccine being delivered by two pilots and two mechanics. All of it was coordinated by the White House.

"As other countries are getting vaccinated, they are helping protect their citizens but they are also helping protect American citizens as they travel both domestically and abroad," said Cmdr. Avi Stein, U.S. Public Health Service.