Coronavirus: Bay Area counties rush to secure cold storage for Pfizer vaccine

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine expected in mid-December, Bay Area counties are continuing to prepare for distribution.

One of the key factors is cold storage, which is needed for the Pfizer vaccine, requiring a storage temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius.

The specialized refrigeration equipment is not readily available at all hospitals and clinics.

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In addition to ordering the freezers, counties are getting help from local research centers as well.

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato said it will loan two or three of its ultra-cold freezers to Marin County.

"We're kind of doing that thing you do at home with your fridge looking for things that can be tossed out and increase capacity," said Buck Institute Vice President Gordon Lithgow.

Dominican University of California, a private college in San Rafael, says it will also supply much needed cold storage space for vaccines that arrive in Marin County.

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In Santa Clara County, officials gave an update on their vaccination plan on Wednesday.
In terms of freezer storage for the Pfizer vaccine, Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, says she wasn't sure how many they had yet.

"Before coming to the press conference I was on the phone with a group that was telling me that freezers had arrived on a truck as of yesterday," said Tong.

Multiple freezers have already been purchased and installed by the county, she said, adding that private health care providers have also been securing equipment.

Earlier in November, Sutter Health said they had already invested $100,000 on 14 freezers, some of which are portable.

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On its website, Alameda County said it is also working to "purchase freezers and dry ice to support cold chain management."

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