ABC15 received an inside look at one of the first Valley health clinics approved to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine. Their application to the state getting the green light in large part because of their ultra-low freezers.
They operate at minus 80 degrees Celsius and they’re the key to distributing a number of potential coronavirus vaccines at Redirect Health in Phoenix.
“Each freezer would hold about four hundred,” said Redirect Health Medical Director Dr. Janice Johnston.
Four hundred vials of a potentially life-saving medicine. Redirect Health has a freezer like this at three locations across the county. The clinic was recently approved by the state to distribute a vaccine once available.
“We’ll be approved give the vaccine that’s held in a deep freezer type environment,” said Dr. Johnston.
Two leading vaccines Moderna and Pfizer are required to be stored at subzero temperatures.
The latter making headlines Monday after researchers announced Pfizer's vaccine is so far more than 90 percent effective in phase three trials.
“Some years the flu vaccine is 50-55 percent, some years it’s 70 to 80 percent effective,” said Dr. Andrew Carroll a Valley Family Medicine Doctor.
Dr. Carroll says if that effectiveness holds up, it’s a remarkable achievement. But he adds many questions still remain.
“It doesn’t say anything to how long it lasts, it doesn’t say if it’s a lifelong vaccine or just six months,” said Dr. Carroll. “So far, patients in the trial are given two shots twenty-eight days apart.”
Redirect health hopes to deliver up to 1,200 shots a day once a vaccine is rolled out.
But how they'll do it whether by appointment or drive up still needs to be worked out.
“I want to give out as many as possible obviously, we may need to staff up in order to do so,” said Dr. Johnston.
How many will also depend on the supply and how many vaccines are approved.
Dr. Carrol says solutions for storing vaccines are already being thought up to increase the number of locations providing it.
“There’s contingency plans to provide dry ice to offices such as mine to supply those, and we’ve already been shopping for an ultra-low freezer anyway,” said Dr. Carroll.
The FDA has yet to approve any vaccine at this point. But things are moving quickly and Arizonans could see their first doses by the first or second quarter of 2021.