Delaware expects to get about 16,000 doses of the first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved by the FDA, and it’s got a new ultra cold freezer in which to store it.
Those tidbits were some of the details doled out Tuesday during the state’s weekly COVID-19 press conference.
The state has been updating Delawareans for weeks about what is expected to happen when the vaccine was ready, and even more details were available Tuesday.
The first doses of the vaccine were expected to arrive this month, after the FDA approved Pfizer’s and Modern’s drug.
They expect about 8,775 doses of Pfizer’s as early as Tuesday, Dec. 5. When Moderna is approved, the state expects 8,300 about a week later.
The new medicine goes first to “critical infrastructure workers,” she said.
In the first distribution, dubbed 1A, some of the vaccine will go to hospitals, who will vaccinate their highest-risk workers dealing with people who come in contact with COVID cases. Those will include emergency room doctors and nurses, but also those who care for them in other ways.
Some first responders, such as paramedics in all three counties, also will receive vaccine.
Also receiving some of the first vaccine will be long-term nursing home residents and people who work there. To help do that, Delaware will activate a federal program that allows pharmacy workers to go into nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to give the shots to the residents and workers.
In Phase 1B, Rattay said, “We really want to see the vaccine getting to essential workers, whether that be poultry plant workers, K-12 educators, childcare providers and also those at high risk of more serious consequences.”
She said the state hopes that they can start vaccinating group 1B in three to four weeks.
The vaccination will be given rolled out in an overlapping pattern, meaning that vaccinations for group 1B should begin before group 1A is finished.
The state has asked for as much of the Pfizer vaccine as it can get, Rattay said.
DPH has set up a centralized warehouse for the vaccine which has just received its cold storage units for storing the vaccine.
“It might look like a basic but skinny refrigerator, but it is an ultra-cold freezer that can store the vaccine,” Rattay said, “it can store almost 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.”
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -94 Fahrenheit. To keep it cold, it will be transported packed with dry ice.
The Thermo Scientific Revco ultra-cold storage unit from Fisher Scientific has the capacity to hold nearly 300,000 doses of vaccine. This unit will allow storage of the Pfizer vaccine without the need for dry ice exchange, giving additional flexibility for vaccine distribution within the state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine with ultra-cold storage requirements will be shipped directly from the manufacturer in sealed coolers that are packed with dry ice.