Blood Bank offers freezer space to store COVID-19 vaccine
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The State of Alaska is hoping to hear next week how much COVID-19 vaccine it will receive in the next shipment. But whatever the amount, the Anchorage Health Department will be storing its share in a new place.
The Blood Bank of Alaska has offered ultra-cold freezer space to the city free of charge, in an agreement signed last week. It’s where the Pfizer vaccine will go, according to Anchorage Assistant Fire Chief Mike Crotty. He said the vaccine has to be stored in extremely low temperatures, and the City Health Department doesn’t have that type of refrigeration.
“The vaccine has a temperature range of -90 to -70 (Celsius) that it needs to be in,” said Crotty. “Once it comes out of that temperature range, it has to be refrigerated in standard refrigeration.”
Crotty said the vaccine has to be used within five days once it’s removed from the deep freeze, which gave the city less than a week to get most of its allocation into people’s arms. Now that the vaccine will be stored in Blood Bank freezers, providers can get it any time and only take as much as they need.
“We can access it 24-7 and start that five-day clock with one or two vials at a time instead of being dependent to get a shipment of vials and putting it in refrigeration and only have five days to use them.”
Crotty said that flexibility will ultimately help the city vaccinate more people more efficiently.
He added that no Blood Bank employees will have access to the locked freezers. Only employees from the Anchorage Fire Department, City Health Department and Office of Emergency Management will be able to retrieve vaccines.
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