Here's how Decatur Morgan Hospital stores and transports the coronavirus vaccine

Decatur Morgan Hospital purchased a special $5,000 ultra-low freezer to house the Pfizer vials they receive.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 12:30 PM
Updated: Feb 25, 2021 11:14 AM

Pfizer uses coolers to transport the coronavirus vaccine stored within a reusable box that has dry ice in it. Getting the vaccine from Point A to Point B is no easy task.

When Decatur Morgan Hospital receives a shipment of the vaccine, it goes to the main hospital campus. From there, it is transported by a hospital team to the Parkway Campus, where the vaccine clinic is.

"Here the pharmacy unpacks it and puts it in the freezer and that's where it's stored until the clinic needs it," said Decatur Morgan Hospital Pharmacy Director Jeanna Booth.

That ultra-low freezer is kept at about -70 degrees Fahrenheit. It costs about $5,000 and took Decatur Morgan Hospital almost four months to get.

Right now, there's 1,696 Pfizer vials in that freezer. That's about 10,000 doses.

Each afternoon the pharmacy gets a call from the clinic. They then extract however many doses is needed from this ultra low freezer and bring them over to the regular refrigerator to thaw out overnight.

With all these moving parts and strict temperature rules, the hospital keeps track each time a vial changes location to make sure no vaccine is wasted.

"We do date and time them when they get moved so that we make sure they're used within the appropriate amount of time," said Boothe.

Something else to keep track of? What the hospital has left of Moderna doses. Those can be left in a regular freezer - something you'd see in a household kitchen. Pfizer vaccines are good for two weeks in a regular freezer like this. In one of the ultra low ones, doses can last for months without being spoiled.

The hospital expects to use the last of the Moderna doses on second-dose patients Thursday.

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