ODH, National Guard doing daily dry-runs ahead of vaccine distribution

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

ODH warehouse demonstrates process of repackaging COVID-19 vaccine

The video above was provided by the Ohio Department of Health.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine toured a facility in Central Ohio Tuesday that will be a key cog in the state’s rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ohio Department of Health’s Receipt, Store and Stage warehouse facility will receive many of Pfizer’s vaccine doses when they are available, which DeWine has said will occur in mid-December.

The warehouse is equipped with ultracold freezers that can store up to 720,000 doses at once, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The CDC meets to consider an emergency use authorization for that vaccine Dec. 10. It will meet again Dec. 17 to consider an Emergency Use Authorization for Moderna’s vaccine, which can be stored at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

DeWine says initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped directly to Ohio’s 10 prepositioned hospital sites. As supply increases, more providers will receive direct shipments if ordering 975 doses or more.

Providers ordering fewer than 975 doses, including smaller local health departments and physician’s offices, will not receive direct shipments. The doses will ship to the RSS warehouse instead, where the vaccine will be redistributed in increments of 100, according to DeWine.

Rollout of the vaccine to those smaller localities is pivotal as COVID-19 cases increase in Ohio’s rural counties, meeting or exceeding the incident rates of Ohio’s urban areas.

When the vaccines are ready to be shipped from the warehouse, they will be removed from ultracold storage, repackaged with dry ice in two minutes and delivered within six hours, according to DeWine. The vaccine will remain stable if sealed in the original shipping container from the RSS warehouse with dry ice for up to 5 days.

ODH staff and Ohio National Guard members are practicing the repackaging step daily, DeWine says.

It’s not the only practice underway.

ODH’s Vaccine Preparedness Office has been prepping for the arrival of the vaccine for months, distributing adult influenza vaccinations with the same process as a test exercise, DeWine says.

On Monday, DOH also took part in a nationwide end-to-end training exercise with the packaging that will be used to distribute the Pfizer vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to be shipped directly to providers and will not be processed at the RSS warehouse, DeWine adds.

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