VCU Medical Center will play a key role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — VCU Medical Center will play a leading role in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in our region.

For starters, VCU health will help by storing some of the state’s first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in specialized freezers. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in temperatures that are colder than winter in Antarctica.

“These are freezers that are ultracold, so minus 70 degrees, so very, very cold,” explained Doctor David Lanning, Interim Chief Medical Officer for VCU Medical Center. 

VCU Medical Center happened to have already a few of these specialized freezers for storing some chemicals and medications. This made the hospital an ideal partner in this process. Still, VCU Health went ahead and added another. “We actually did obtain another freezer just in case, to make sure we are well-positioned to store this vaccine,” said Doctor Lanning.

Statewide, Virginia is expected to get an initial shipment of about 70,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Late Friday, The Virginia Department of Health announced the Commonwealth is now preparing to receive about 480,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of December.

Dr. Lanning believes VCU could see its first doses next week. He said, “We are positioned to receive somewhere around 4,000 give or take.”

Those at the highest risk for the virus — healthcare workers and long-term care facilities — will have priority.

8News asked Dr. Lanning how safe the vaccine was and if he would get it himself. He told us, “Yes, I will. We’re talking about 95% efficacy which is, which is tremendous.”

8News has also confirmed UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville has purchased freezers for storing and assisting with distributing the vaccine in Virginia.

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