Prepping for COVID-19 vaccines means making sure freezers are available

An Arizona State University Professor believes that those who will be storing the COVID-19 vaccine have had a sufficient amount of time to be prepared with freezers, but the real constraint will be having a freezer that can be set at negative 94 degrees.

"Lead the nation" is the goal for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey as plans for a COVID-19 vaccine distribution rollout.

In a call with major health insurance companies on Tuesday, Dec. 1, Ducey says he wants all Arizonans to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, especially those with financial burdens.

The first distribution in Arizona will be given to health care and long-term facility workers, similar to the CDC's recommendation on Tuesday. Along with mass distribution, another challenge will be vaccine storage.

ASU Associate Professor Kristen Parrish weighs in on the difficulties of storing vaccines that need to be kept at very low temperatures in order to be effective.

There need to be freezers that keep the temperature low, she says, but also someone who is experienced with providing those freezers maintenance if need be.

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She says, "I think there’s a very limited number of places that would have the ability let alone handle the capacity." Adding that in the Valley, challenges will come when temperatures rise.

"Beginning in May, here in the Valley, temperatures start to rise during the afternoon hours. What that requires for ultracold freezers is that the compressors, which feed them are on for essentially continuously noon and seven to maintain the ultracold temperature in the freezer compared to the warm temperatures outside," Parrish explained.

While the distribution and logistics will be a challenge, she believes many are prepared and have freezers ready to store the vaccines.