Med Center Health talks vaccine preps and refrigeration process

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 7:35 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be in the Bluegrass soon.

There are many questions regarding how this one in particular will be handled.

Med Center Health in Bowling Green is among 11 initial hospital locations receiving the first shipment of the vaccine.

Corporate Director of Pharmacy at Med Center Health, Caleb Benningfield says right now one of the vaccines that have gained a lot of traction is the Pfizer vaccine because of its unique storage.

Benningfield adds that although information is ever-changing adjusting to the uniqueness of the vaccine was a challenge.

“In the pharmacy here at the Medical Center, we’ve It was a unique challenge for us to consider because we typically don’t have medications that we store at temperatures that cold. So we had worked internally to identify some areas in our pharmacy, we could outfit one to two of these ultra-low temperature freezers. We were able to bring them in, set them up with emergency backup power, and also wireless real-time temperature monitoring capabilities. So we’re able to monitor the temperature in those freezers at any given moment in real-time and identify any potential issues that there may be with an interruption of the storage.”

Benningfield adds, ”instead of formal FDA approval, the FDA gives authorization for Pfizer to release the vaccine under certain conditions. So they have filed that information and to the best of my knowledge, their hearing is scheduled for this week on Thursday. Depending on how that goes, it’s still an unknown if the FDA will be approving the day of the hearing, or if they will take it under advisement and take a number of days to render the decision. But once that decision is made, if they do approve the emergency use authorization, that sets a lot of different things in motion, you know, Pfizer will begin shipping the product, and then allocation process across the country will take place.”

“Should the facility have the means to store it are transferred to an ultra-low temperature freezer as we have, we’ve been told that that product will be viable for six months. We do also know that if that coat chain was broken and the storage conditions were different than what it was shipped in, depending on what type of storage that is. That could be that could mean the vaccine is viable as few as five days. We also know that once we mixed a vial of vaccine which contains five doses, the doses within that vaccine need to be used within six hours. But once you’re ready to give those doses you also have a very finite window to operate into, to minimize wastage and be able to get the most out of the bottles that you’re given,” said Benningfield.

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