Campus is well prepared to store COVID-19 vaccines

UC Riverside expects to receive a shipment of Moderna vaccines tomorrow

January 19, 2021
Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
January 19, 2021

The University of California, Riverside, expects to receive a shipment of 400 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses on Wednesday, Jan. 20. An initial shipment of 100 Moderna vaccines was delivered to Student Health Services earlier this month in order to begin inoculating frontline health care staff. 

The Moderna vaccine needs to be stored between -13 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, which regular freezers can provide. The university has a number of such freezers that can be used to store the vaccines; one empty freezer in the School of Medicine can hold 648 packages, with each package comprising 100 doses. 

Daniel Delperdang
Daniel Delperdang

Pfizer BioNTech vaccines, however, must be stored at around -80 degrees Celsius or -112 degrees Fahrenheit, said Daniel Delperdang, the medical school’s training and safety manager for laboratory facilities. 

“The university has several ultra-low-temperature freezers; many labs on campus have these,” Delperdang said. “The School of Medicine has at least 30 of them. One of these is available for storing Pfizer vaccines. We are not, however, anticipating any Pfizer vaccines being delivered to campus at this time.”

Donald Larsen
Donald Larsen

The Multidisciplinary Research Building has acquired several new energy-efficient, ultra-low-temperature freezers that use water-cooled refrigeration, needing special infrastructure to operate. These freezers require tracking systems to constantly monitor their temperature, which UCR has acquired. 

“The university has registered with the state of California to be part of the distribution network for vaccines,” said Dr. Donald Larsen, chief executive officer of UCR Health. “We have a good distribution plan in place and will ensure the vaccines are administered to essential employees in a timely manner.”

Once UCR has vaccinated those in Phase 1a who wish to be vaccinated, it will begin the next phase of the vaccination plan for UCR employees and graduate students who are in Phase 1b, as well as UCR Health patients 65 or older and those patients with specific underlying medical conditions