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St. Luke's Health System Prepares For Coronavirus Vaccine

St. Luke's Health System
One of St. Luke's new ultra-low-temperature freezers

The St. Luke’s Health System is ready to receive the first shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

To stay effective, the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -94°F (-70°C)—colder than temperatures in Antarctica. So St. Luke’s bought three ultra-low-temperature freezers that can hold 20,000 doses each, and it set up a backup system that uses dry ice.

“I think that the preparations that we have put in place have given us the most flexibility for whatever things will transpire in the next month. I feel pretty confident right now," St. Luke’s Senior Director of Pharmacy Scott Milner said.

“It's been motivating. I feel inspired by the work that's gone into this.”

The vaccines come shipped in temperature-controlled containers that use dry ice and thermal sensors to keep them cool.

Once the FDA authorizes Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use, Idaho’s healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents are slated to get it first.

In the next few weeks St. Lukes expects to receive Moderna’s vaccine as well—and unlike Pfizer’s, Moderna’s only has to be kept at 36 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio