Moving and Storing Covid-19 Vaccine Remains Big Priority for St. Louis County, Local Hospitals

NORTHLAND– As vaccine rollout continues, storage and handling of doses remains crucial to avoid batches from being wasted.

St. Louis County Public Health and other health care organizations receive a new shipment of vaccines every Tuesday from the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC.

Doses are kept in specialized coolers with temperature gauges and data loggers to constantly track the temperature of the vaccine between 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit.

“If it goes out of range for any length of time either too hot or too cold we know it becomes much less effective and at that point that’s just horrible to be able to lose vaccine because it’s so hard to get anyway,” said Lisa Konicheck, a public health nurse for St. Louis County.

Over at Essential Health, they are part of a small number of hospitals that initially had the capability to bring in the Pfizer vaccine through their “ultra-low” freezer storage. It’s then sent over to Essentia’s vaccination site at their miller hill mall location, also kept in specialized coolers where it can be for only 5 days before it spoils.

“This is a special freezer that we had to purchase throughout our system because we knew we were going to see the Pfizer vaccine,” said Jim Tomsche, who’s the Senior Pharmacy Operations Manager at Essentia Health. “It actually stores that temperature of the vaccine vials at a negative 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.”

After further research, Pfizer announced earlier this week that its vaccine can be kept in warmer conditions between 5 degrees to 13 degrees below zero.

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