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LA hospitals to receive shipments of vaccine from Pfizer, store them in freezers

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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's Health Department says the state is ready for the arrival of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccination, so much so, that Louisiana's readiness may very well surpass that of any other state's.

During the first week of December, the Health Department led a test run of mock "vaccine" deliveries to hospitals across the state. The health department felt that a test run in each of its nine public-health regions would help to ensure smooth sailing when it comes to the real distribution of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

When vaccines arrive, Louisiana's health officials say separate containers will be made to contain at least 975 doses.

And, according to Pfizer's website, once a medical facility that plans to administer the vaccinations receives a thermal shipper with the vaccines, its personnel have three options for storage:

- Ultra-low-temperature freezers, which are commercially available and can extend shelf life for up to six months.

- The Pfizer thermal shippers, in which doses will arrive, that can be used as temporary storage units by refilling with dry ice every five days for up to 30 days of storage.

- Refrigeration units that are commonly available in hospitals. The vaccine can be stored for five days at refrigerated 2-8°C conditions.

After storage for up to 30 days in the Pfizer thermal shipper, vaccination centers can transfer the vials to 2-8°C storage conditions for an additional five days, for a total of up to 35 days. Once thawed and stored under 2-8°C conditions, the vials cannot be re-frozen or stored under frozen conditions.

The various storage options at the medical facility allow for equitable access to the Pfizer vaccine to areas with differing infrastructure.

Local health leaders say the success of the vaccination distribution hinges on how readily officials and public citizens work to apply health precautions and distribution procedures.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccination is expected to be approved around December 17 or December 18. Once this occurs, the same distribution process will begin again, this time for Moderna.   


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