NEW BRITAIN – Hartford HealthCare said it is prepared for the distribution and administration of the covid-19 vaccine during a media briefing on Tuesday.
“Some wonderful news we’ve heard in the past week or so is we’re getting a Modena and Pfizer vaccine,” said Ajay Kumar, MD and chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare. “These are something for us to be really happy about. The scientific community is really stepping up in producing that and we’ve been working for a while in our vaccine distribution effort and how we plan this out.”
Both vaccines require cold chain storage, which may cause an issue, however.
“The storage for the Pfizer vaccine is particularly challenging because it’s what we call ultra-cold storage,” said Eric Arlia, senior director and system pharmacy at Hartford HealthCare. “That vaccine needs to be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius or minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit until shortly before it’s administered. This creates a lot of logistical challenges and we started preparing for this several months ago in our system. “
Hartford HealthCare ordered additional freezers to increase their capacity.
“We’ve ordered a large ultra-low temperature freezer, it’s about 28 cubic feet and can actually hold almost 280,000 doses of the vaccine,” Arlia said. “The vaccine is going to be shipped to us on dry ice and once it comes out of the shipping container it comes in trays of 195 viles each. Each vile has five doses in it.”
This gives the Hartford Hospital campus a tremendous amount of capacity to store and distribute the vaccines.
“So once the Pfizer vaccine is defrosted it is good for five days in the refrigerator and then once it’s at room temperature preparing for administration it’s good for six hours,” Arlia said.
The Moderna vaccine can be stored at standard freezer temperature, which is minus 20 degrees, Celsius according to Arlia.
“We’ve also ordered some additional freezers for the Moderna vaccine,” Arlia said. “All of our acute care facilities also have standard freezer capacity so we’ll be able to store that one at all of the hospital facilities long term.”
Arlia believes there will definitely be a great demand for freezers soon.
“We ordered ours in September. The ultra-cold freezer came in about four weeks later and the additional freezers that we ordered for the Moderna vaccine are scheduled to arrive later this week. So I think we’re in a good position to be prepared to get vaccinations going as soon as the drug becomes available,” Arlia said. “So we’re all very excited for that the news has been very promising over the last week to 10 days with the effectiveness of the vaccine.”