Valley Children's Hospital will serve as regional distribution center for COVID-19 vaccine

The hospital said it has enough ultra low-temperature freezer capacity to store up to several hundred thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley Children's Hospital has been chosen to be Central California's site for the storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine shots when they reach the region.

The hospital said in a statement on Wednesday that it has enough ultra low-temperature freezer capacity to store up to several hundred thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the first coronavirus vaccine expected to receive federal approval.

It said that according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines, it will be "expected to receive, store and distribute the vaccine to other healthcare providers and organizations across our region".

It was one of seven hospitals in the state chosen to be pre-positioned for the vaccines.

The CDPH released a statement saying, "This pre-positioning is a one-time effort intended to shorten the timeline between emergency use authorization release and the initiation of vaccine administration."

The hospital does not yet know when the doses will be delivered to it, and how exactly it will distribute them.

Officials say they will know more about when vaccines will be delivered after December 10, when the FDA will consider granting emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. If granted, the delivery could be as soon as mid-December.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine needs to be stored inside specialized freezers at 94 degrees below zero.

Valley Children's CEO Todd Suntrapak said, "We will be expected to receive, store and distribute the vaccine to other healthcare providers and organizations across our region."

Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig said the county's public health department is ready as well.

"The county has procured these large freezer facilities so we do have the capability I believe to store 100,000 units of the vaccine if it does need the extreme cold storage," Magsig said.

In the case of the Pfizer version of the vaccine, 100,000 units means 50,000 people could receive the vaccine since it requires two doses.

The CDC's vaccine priority list includes nursing home workers and residents.

58 California counties are lobbying to be among the first to receive the vaccine.

Magsig said he believes the Valley's role in producing food for the rest of the country will work in Fresno County's favor when it comes to distribution.

"Because of what we do and the fact that we have many people here who have been affected by the virus, I do believe that we will be at the front of the line when it comes to distribution from the state to the counties," Magsig said.

Magsig said he expects Fresno County to receive its first vaccine shipment later this month.

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Valley Children's Hospital has been chosen to be Central California's site for the storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine shots.



Tulare County officials also said on Wednesday they have freezer space ready at the Public Health Lab.

"We have an industrial, ultra-low freezer. It's about 4 feet by 7 feet," said Carrie Monteiro with Tulare County Public Health. "And it's able to store thousands of cases of vaccines and vials."

In addition, the county's health officials said the state will make freezer storage space available in Visalia, which can be utilized by providers across Central California.

The number of vaccines the Central Valley will get is still yet to be determined. But officials say front line workers and vulnerable populations, like those living in nursing homes, will be a priority.

"We are working around the clock to get the vaccine into the hands of those who need it most," said Monteiro.
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