With the upcoming release of the new COVID-19 vaccine, companies such as Pfizer are looking into locations that will be able to store the vaccine until it is distributed to the public.
Missouri State University President Clif Smart stated on Nov. 17 in his Clif Notes that MSU will act as one of the storage units to hold the vaccines.
Between the two vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, Pfizer’s must be kept in “ultra” cold temperatures according to David Hall, director of university safety.
The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at 80 degrees below zero, requiring a different type of refrigerator storage since most common fridges do not reach this low of a temperature.
According to Hall, the state reached out to MSU a few weeks ago, asking if the university had the space to store the vaccine, as there are a limited number of places that might be able to store the vaccine.
MSU has two locations in which the vaccine can be stored: the Jordan Valley Innovation Center and through the College of Agriculture.
While MSU has the resources and space to store the vaccine, Hall said Mercy Hospital is the primary storage location, and MSU will be a backup for them.
“We are not currently storing any of (the vaccine), but we are set up to store it if needed,” Hall said. “One, you need to have the proper type of freezers. Two, you have to have the space set up. And number three, you need to have security to be able to protect it so that it’s not tampered with.”
According to Frederick Muegge, director of health and wellness services, the university also owns a backup generator for the critical refrigerators and freezers.
“We keep cold mass storage in the freezers and refrigerators, which are water bottles and ice packs and whatnot so that if the power does fail, it will keep the vaccine safe for a number of hours because of the cold storage,” Muegge said. “We have quite a few safeguards built into the system. We have talked with our custodians to make sure they don’t disrupt the power cords in the back. We document every day on the temperatures.”
MSU is one of the few locations that will be able to distribute the vaccine once it is released.
“The federal government in conjunction with the state are establishing points of distribution, commonly called pods, and they are partnering with hospitals, various pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens as well as local health care providers such as Magers (Health and Wellness Center),” Hall said. “Magers has completed the application that is necessary so that they can be a point of distribution so that whenever the vaccine is released to be able to be used, they will be able to do that.”
Muegge said Magers applied over a month ago to be a distribution site.
The vaccines will be distributed based on a priority system, according to Hall.
Healthcare providers will be one of the first to receive the vaccines. Next, will be first responders and teachers. Then it will be given to those who are at higher risk, followed by the general public.
“The best way to protect the entire population is by using it strategically,” Hall said.
Pfzier announced on Nov. 16 that the “U.S. COVID-19 Immunization Pilot Program with four states, to help refine the plan for the delivery and deployment of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate that is being co-developed with BioNTech,” Pfizer said.
Pfizer selected four states — Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee, to help figure out the planning, deployment, and administration of the vaccine. These states were selected because of their size, population diversity, and immunization instructors. These states also contain a mix of urban and rural areas according to Pfizer’s website.
Follow Caroline Mund on Twitter, @cemund32.
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