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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Americans are one step closer to a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think it’s a great first step,” New York’s Upstate Medical University Infectious Disease Chief Dr. Stephen Thomas said.

Thomas is encouraged by news that Pfizer’s trials show their vaccine is 90% effective and may soon be ready for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

“I think that it really exceeded the expectations of lots of vaccine developers and immunologists and clinicians,” Thomas said.

After approval, Pfizer will shift toward manufacturing and distributing the vaccine.

“There could be a significant roll-out of vaccine by the first or second quarter of calendar year [20]21,” Thomas said.

However, one major distribution challenge stands in the way: The vaccine needs to be stored at 94 degrees below zero, and not every hospital has the required equipment.

“You have to, in a sense, verify you got the goods to take care of the vaccine, to make sure that it’s going to still be efficacious when you’re administering it to the general public and to your patients,” WorkCare Associate Medical Director Dr. Anthony Harris said.

Harris says the handling and distribution of this vaccine under these requirements will need cooperation from state and federal agencies.

“It’s going to be paramount things are done properly to ensure people are confident in the safety as well as efficacy of the vaccine,” Harris said.

But both health experts have faith in the process.

“This is being figured out and it will not be a major impediment to distribution of a vaccine,” Thomas said

Pfizer estimates it will produce 50 million doses this year.

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