LENEXA, Kan. — As COVID-19 vaccines arrive in the metro, they must be stored in ultra-cold freezers. If the temperature of the vaccine drops too low, it loses its effectiveness.
Ultra cold freezers can be set down to -80 Celsius or -122 Fahrenheit, which is just enough because the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius.
Two local companies are making sure that the metro is ready to handle the millions of doses that will arrive over the next few months.
Heart to Heart in Lenexa has multiple of these freezers and can hold 750,000 doses at a time.
“With three of these freezers, we will have significant capacity either to play a role in the vaccination process itself but also very importantly to support state and local jurisdictions,” said Kim Carroll, CEO of Heart to Heart International.
Workers at Heart to Heart must wear gloves and goggles when using the freezer or they could suffer serious burns.
Carroll said this isn’t the first time Heart to Heart has handled a viral outbreak.
“Heart to Heart had significant experience with infectious disease management. As many in the community know, we actually sent a team to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak, and we built and operated Ebola treatment units,” Carroll said.
As COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, local health departments set up pop-up testing. The same is being considered for the vaccine.
Henderson Engineers in Lenexa is creating a way to do just that.
“Essentially fold-up construction that you can put an empty parking lot that can actually act as a vaccination station, have drive-up type windows, have a space for the workers, the users keeping them safe and (air) conditioned, as well as the actual vaccine itself,” said Jon Flann, principal at Henderson Engineers.
Heart to Heart is currently on standby waiting to get the green light to begin vaccine storage and administration.
“We’re ready, and we are ready to support whatever needs they have,” Carroll said