IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Eastern Idaho Public Health has a new unique low-temperature freezer capable of storing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Two COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, appear to be most likely to reach the public first.
The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a regular freezer. However, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at an ultra cold temperature below -70 degrees.
Different manufacturers are all working on making the COVID-19 vaccine and they have different parameters and how that vaccine has to be stored to maintain the efficacy when it's used.
Both are reportedly about 90 to 95% effective.
Through community and state partners, Eastern Idaho Public Health received a freezer to store the Pfizer vaccine and are expecting another one on the way.
Clinical Services Division Administrator at EIPH Amy Gamett says without the freezers they would be limited to the vaccine that the health department could have and unable to get that vaccine to other partners in the community if needed.
When the vaccine first becomes available, it'll be in a limited supply.
Gamett explains that the health department wants the ability to have both of those vaccines at the same time if they can.
"If we limited ourselves to the one vaccine that could be kept in a regular freezer, that's a lot of vaccine we wouldn't receive initially. During those limited doses, it would not allow a lot of people to be vaccinated. So if we're able to take both of those limited amount of doses from both of those manufacturers, we're able to vaccinate more people sooner," said Gamett.
Each box of Pfizer will contain 975 doses of vaccine.
They haven't figured out how many boxes the freezer can store just yet, but it's estimated to be over 24 boxes.
EIPH has made room and established a location to keep the new freezer.
While they still have a few things to figure out, it'll be some time before they actually turn the freezer on.
"We'll have it up and running in a few days. Then we have a way to monitor those temperatures. So, when we start monitoring those temperatures we can assure the temperatures are staying stable prior to us receiving the vaccine," said Gamett.
The FDA still needs to approve the vaccines before it can be distributed.
A subcommittee will be meeting on December 10th, the FDA says.
If the FDA give it's approval, then the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will then have to have meet and set guidelines.
Gamett says she doesn't think those guidelines will be set until mid-December, but as soon as that's done, she thinks we'll have a vaccine within a few days.
"So when the vaccines first come in, it'll be based on the priority that the state has set. So we know the healthcare workers are the highest priority right now. It looks like hospital staff and that vaccine will be distributed on according to that priority list," said Gamett.
Eastern Idaho Public Health would like to remind the public that they are hosting a free influenza clinic care on Monday, Dec. 9 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at 1250 Hollipark Dr, Idaho Falls, ID 8340.
It will be a drive-thru clinic.
You can call to schedule an appointment or just attend the clinic.