Search for freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines: Hospitals, health departments on the lookout

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Fresno, California (KSEE) – Following two promising vaccine trials, the Central Valley counties are now looking for somewhere to put them once they are delivered.

The state estimates that the first shipment for the Central Valley could come in mid to late December.

Fresno County Department of Public Health has the capacity to store around 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and approximately 20,000 of the Moderna vaccine. Each person needs to take two doses, so it would be enough for 60,000 people. All of these doses will go directly to healthcare workers.

“Everyone is standing with their hand in the air ready for a vaccination,” said Madera County Department of Public Health Director Sara Bosse

The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius. The Moderna vaccine has to be stored at -20 degrees Celsius.

“Both of those vaccines need cold storage,” said Chief Operating Officer W. Eugene Egerton. “The Pfizer vaccine needs super cold storage. We are looking at the freezers that have the temperatures for that. They also send it in containers that have dry ice that you can recharge.”

Once the vaccine is approved, the state will decide how many will be sent to the counties based on population and storage.

Madera and Tulare County have also purchased ultra-cold freezers but it is unclear their capacity.

Kaweah Delta Director of Pharmacy James McNulty said, even with the first shipment of doses, most likely not all health care workers will get the vaccine.

“We would triage based on those that are at highest risk,” said McNulty. “So your emergency room providers, folks that are managing COVID patients on the floors, so it would vary.”

Hospitals hope to get the initial doses by the end of the year.

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