COVID-19 vaccine to arrive at western Massachusetts hospitals

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Local hospitals will begin to vaccinate their frontline workers this week, as doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine begin to arrive. Massachusetts is expecting to receive about 60,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of the week, with the first doses to arrive as early as Monday.

Dr. Andrew Artenstein of Baystate Health told 22News they expect to begin vaccinating their workers on or about Tuesday. Dr. Robert Roose of Mercy Medical Center also told 22News they expect to receive their first doses of the vaccine early this week.

Storing those doses of vaccine, however, will also be a challenge. Once the packages arrive at point-of-use facilities, Pfizer says there are three options for storage.

Rare, Ultra-low-temperature freezers can store the vaccine at near negative 100 degrees for up to six months. Mercy Medical Center told us they were able to get one of these freezers.

There are also commonly-available refrigeration units – chilled to between two and eight degrees Celcius – which can store the vaccine for five days. Holyoke Medical Center told 22News they were purchasing storage freezers.

If a facility does not have the necessary freezer, the shipping containers themselves can store the vaccine safely for up to 30 days – as long as they are refilled with fresh dry ice every five days.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital says they were looking into getting dry ice.

In most facilities, the shelf life of the vaccine is just over one month.

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