Sanford Health preparing to store and distribute coronavirus vaccines

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Drug makers Pfizer and Moderna say their coronavirus vaccines are 95-percent effective. Upon approval, Sanford Health will be among the hospital systems storing and distributing the vaccines.

Sanford Health started preparing for a coronavirus vaccine in August, purchasing six freezers.

“We do have minus-80 freezers in places like our lab and bio-bank and things like that, but it’s not where we normally store medications, so we did buy additional freezers and we have them spread throughout our footprint,” Sanford Health Pharmacy Senior Executive Director Jesse Breidenbach said.

The Sioux Falls health system has storage space for about 75,000 doses of Pfizer.

“The Pfizer vaccine at minus-80, once we take it out of the freezer, it’s actually good for up to five days in the refrigerator,” Breidenbach said.

Once it’s reconstituted into a solution, it’s good for only six hours.

“A lot of coordination into this as far as how many people are eligible and want to receive the vaccine in a certain location, so we get them the appropriate amount of vaccine,” Breidenbach said.

The Sioux Falls health system also has room for 75,000 doses of Moderna.

“That has a little bit easier storage requirement, so with that it’s a minus-20 vaccine in the freezer, but it’s good for up to 30 days once you take it and have it at refrigerator temperature, so that one will be a little bit easier to work with,” Breidenbach said.

A hub location has space for upwards of 200,000 doses, but Breidenbach doesn’t expect anyone to be at capacity.

“Once we start getting the vaccinations in, we will be turning that inventory over and distributing it out to the locations to start vaccination efforts,” Breidenbach said.

The vaccines will be administered in two doses.

“The Pfizer vaccine is two doses, 21 days apart. Moderna is two doses, 28 days apart,” Breidenbach said.

Breidenbach hopes for widespread availability early next year.

“Normally, the manufacturers wouldn’t produce vaccine on a large scale until it’s been approved by the FDA because obviously they don’t want to spend a lot of money making something that doesn’t get approval, so the fact that they’ve been producing mass quantities of the vaccine already does give a lot of hope to large amounts being distributed fairly quickly,” Breidenbach said.

Each state has its own rules for the vaccines, so Sanford plans to store doses in Worthington for its Minnesota patients. Normally, the product would originate in Sioux Falls.

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