VCU Medical Center plays key role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution with ultra-cold freezers


The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in temperatures that are colder than winter in Antarctica

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC ) — VCU Medical Center will play a leading role in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in our region.

For starters, VCU health will help by storing some of state’s first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in specialized freezers. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in temperatures that are colder than winter in Antarctica.

“These are freezers that are ultra cold, so minus 70 degrees, so very, very cold,” explained Dr. David Lanning, Interim Chief Medical Officer for VCU Medical Center. 

VCU Medical Center happened to already have a few of these specialized freezers for storing some chemicals and medications. This made the hospital an ideal partner in this process. Still, VCU Health went ahead and added another. “We actually did obtain another freezer just in case, to make sure we are well-positioned to store this vaccine,” said Dr. Lanning.

Statewide, Virginia is expected to get an initial shipment of about 70,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Late Friday, The Virginia Department of Health announced the Commonwealth is now preparing to receive about 480,000 doses of vaccine from both Pfizer and Moderna by the end of December.

Dr. Lanning believes VCU could see it’s first doses next week. He said, “We are positioned to receive somewhere around 4,000, give or take.”

Those at highest risk for the virus — healthcare workers and long-term care facilities — will have first priority.

8News asked Dr. Lanning how safe the vaccine was and if he would get it himself. He told us, “Yes, I will. We’re talking about 95% efficacy which is, which is tremendous.”

8News has also confirmed UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville has purchased freezers for storing and assisting with distributing the vaccine in Virginia.


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