How will local hospitals, households keep COVID-19 vaccines cold?

Hampden County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The race to develop a vaccine could soon evolve into the race to distribute one, but one key challenge facing the health care system is how to store it. 

We’re told these vaccines need ultra-cold temperatures. Your freezer at home is zero degrees Fahrenheit and Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at about negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Dr. Robert Roose, chief medical officer at Mercy Medical Center said, “There are tens of millions of doses that are expected to become available.” 

The end of 2020 could mean the beginning of getting the vaccine out. In Massachusetts, it would start with health care workers and the most vulnerable populations. The president and CEO of Baystate Health said they will need 7,000 doses for their staff. 

“We are making plans right now to make sure we can get it off without a hitch,” said Mark Keroack, Baystate Health president and CEO. 

At the Holyoke Medical Center, they’re already thinking ahead by purchasing storage for the vaccine to keep it cold. A similar story at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. 

Roose added, “We have acquired the freezers, the equipment needed to store the vaccine that would be distributed.” 

It’s not just ultra-cold freezers in demand, but also dry ice. Cooley Dickinson Hospital is part of Mass General Brigham. In a statement to 22News, the hospital said in part: “Any planning for vaccine storage would happen at the systemwide level…for the vaccine that requires dry ice for storage, we have started to look into that.” 

It’s important to note that the vaccines need to be authorized by the FDA first. If that happens, the general public might not have access to it until spring. 

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