Special freezers will be needed to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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A general view of Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium in Puurs, Belgium, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Pfizer said Monday that early results from its coronavirus vaccine suggest the shots may be a surprisingly robust 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, putting the company on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The world is on its way to having a COVID-19 vaccine, but medical experts warn there’s still a lot of logistics to figure out. Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, but the way it needs to be stored is very specific.

Dr. Emil Lesho is an infectious disease specialist with Rochester Regional Health. He said people shouldn’t expect a vaccine to be widely available anytime this year. He said there’s still a lot to figure out before we can let our guard down.

One of the things to figure out – how to store this vaccine. Dr. Lesho said generally vaccines need to be kept cold, but this particular one from Pfizer is on a new level.

“Is it has to be kept extremely cold so hundreds and hundreds degrees below zero and if that vaccine is kept at more than from temperature for several days it’s no good and that’s gonna be a challenge to get those types of freezers in place,” Dr. Lesho said.

He said most places don’t have those types of ultra-cold freezers but it is being worked on. Chrysa Charno is the CEO of AcuteKids Urgent Care. She said registering to administer the vaccine through the state would have to be figured out, as well as the storage issue.

“We might have to get a new refrigerator, we might have to figure out if my electric supply can handle the surge of energy needed for something like that. So not every practice is going to have the capability to be able to help out with distributing the vaccine,” Charno said.

Another aspect Dr. Lesho said need to be figured out is convenience of receiving this vaccine.

“It’s not gonna be as convenient as getting the flu shot where you can drive through, we’re not there yet because of these requirements. Second this vaccine that’s all over the news requires two doses, they have to be a certain time period apart.”

He also said initially, there won’t be enough vaccine for everyone and they will have to prioritize those who need it most first.

Some experts said if all goes well, the vaccine could be fast-tracked and ready to be given in the spring of 2021.

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