BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is still working on a plan for distribution and housing of the COVID-19 vaccines in Alabama.
This includes finding freezers to hold the Pfizer vaccine, which has to be stored at about -80 Celsius.
UAB does have a freezer to store the vaccine. It would be limited, but they can house it. Bigger hospitals can provide these types of freezers.
UAB provided video to show the freezer they have to store the Pfizer vaccine. A spokesman said they can’t discuss freezer capacity or storage right now, saying they don’t know the requirements for potential vaccines.
The head of the Alabama Hospital Association said the plans call for a way to store and distribute the vaccine to all hospitals in the state.
“If you don’t have a -80 degree freezer, and for many hospitals there is no need for an -80 degree freezer, then the issue becomes if you can have a continuous supply of dry ice,” Dr. Don Williamson said.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson says the state health department plans to send the vaccine to the six largest hospitals in the state that have the freezer capacity to store it.
Dr. Williamson said even with limited freezer capacity, the final plan for the vaccine and distribution is still being developed. Again - health care workers will be first in line.
"It’s going to depend on how much vaccine is out there. We don’t know that at this point. The work is ongoing between hospitals and public health to identify just what their capacities are,” Williamson said.
Some vaccines are expected by December, but those are likely going only to healthcare workers and then those most vulnerable to COVID-19. The rest of the population won’t likely have access until spring or summer 2021.