Even though the Central District Health Department has a big say in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the department doesn’t store Pfizer vaccine in its own building.
CDHD has agreements with area hospitals to store the Pfizer vaccine.
CHI St. Francis has two freezers that could handle Pfizer, but is using only one of them for the COVID vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine is good for 21 days when kept at negative 60 to 80 Celsius, but lasts only five days at refrigerator temperatures, said Doug Richling, director of the CHI St. Francis pharmacy.
Moderna vaccine is stored in a normal freezer. As long as it’s kept at minus 15 to 25 Celsius, it’s good for 30 days.
As of Thursday, the St. Francis freezer didn’t contain any Pfizer vaccine.
The hospital did have a small amount of Moderna vaccine. That will be administered to some St. Francis employees, who will receive their second round of shots late this month.
Moderna is probably a little easier to work with because of the storage requirements.
“But the main thing we’ve tried to do is just to not have any waste,” Richling said.
The second vaccine dose calls for a precise time period. With Pfizer, people are supposed to get their second dose 21 days after the first one.
The second dose of Moderna should come 28 days after the initial injection.
It’s been a learning curve “to make sure everyone understands how that second dose has to be prelocked in,” Richling said. “You have to be committed to that second dose before you get the first dose.”
Some St. Francis employees have received both of their Pfizer shots. Some employees have yet to get their second Moderna vaccination.
The first Pfizer vaccine arrived Dec. 15 in Grand Island.
After dividing up those doses, Central District Health kept some of the vials temporarily.
Once the Pfizer doses are removed from the deep freeze, they must be used within five days.
If more Pfizer vaccine arrives in Grand Island, Central District Health also has an agreement with Grand Island Regional Medical Center to store the vaccine.
CDHD Health Director Teresa Anderson said the new hospital also has been provided with vaccine to immunize its health care workers.