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Enloe Medical Center doing OK storing COVID-19 vaccines

As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 - local hospitals are making sure they have enough space to store the vaccine.

Posted: Jan 6, 2021 5:41 PM

CHICO, Calif. - So far, so good, at Enloe Medical Center when it comes to storing both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Pharmacy Director at Enloe, Chris Marking, said the boxes Pfizer and Moderna come in have a temp tail. They record the temperature during shipping.

Marking said Moderna comes packed in ice and immediately goes into the freezer. Pfizer is shipped in dry ice. The hospital only has five minutes to get the Pfizer vaccine into the deep freezer.

Marking said so far, it's all gone smoothly.

"A shipment of vaccine is smaller than a cubic square foot so it is not hard to get it into our space at all," said Marking. "Storage is not our limitation. It is just the dating on the vaccine. On these vaccines, they are only good from anywhere between three to six months before they expire. So our thing is making sure we know what the expiration date is coming to us so we can get our clinic planned accordingly and making sure we have all those doses accounted for."

Marking said they already had one pharmacy freezer to store the vaccines but had to borrow the hospital’s high ultra-cold freezers normally used for tissues and blood products.

The pharmacy also prepares the number of vials each night needed to vaccinate people the next day.

Enloe representatives said as of now, they are on track with their vaccine distribution. Marking said he thinks Butte County is vaccinating more than other surrounding counties.

So far, they said they have not had a delay in shipments of the vaccines and have been able to vaccinate up to 200 people a day.

"We have been working very closely with Butte County Public Health," shared Marking. "They have been doing a great job with getting us the supplies we need. We are working weekly calls with them to keep opening more tiers up and get the rest of our community vaccinated."

Marking said after taking the Pfizer vaccine out of the freezer and mixing it with saline, it has a six-hour window before it goes bad. The Moderna vaccine can last 30 days in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer before going bad.

The hospital has a backup generator running the freezers and fridges at all times and back up freezers on site.

Enloe Medical Center has administered over 3,000 vaccines since the vaccine distribution process began. 

Click here to learn more through Butte County Public Health on the COVID-19 vaccines.

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