Macomb, Oakland counties order commercial freezers in preparing for COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer

The Macomb County Executive said because a COVID-19 vaccine could help flatten the curve, his county is getting ready to store a new Pfizer vaccine the company claims is 90 percent effective with more than 43,000 people being tested around the world. 

"This is what is needed. We can do all the things we've been talking about social distancing, wearing the masks, shut down or not shut down the economy, but the only thing that's going to get rid of this is time - or coming up with a vaccine," said Mark Hackel. "Everyone is really anticipating this vaccine, they're waiting for it. It's going to be interesting to see how many raise their hand and say I want it." 

Several municipalities are realizing they have to think ahead since the vaccine must be stored at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius or below. Health departments are trying to get their hands on specialized freezers.
Hackel says Macomb County has ordered two ultra-cold freezers using federal money and an additional freezer is coming from the state.

"We're going to be well ahead of schedule for when the vaccine comes our way," he said. "We're going to be storing it possibly for neighboring counties as well."

In Oakland County Several weeks ago the Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security there says the county put in an order for 10 commercial-grade freezers to be used to store the vaccine. 

Each costs almost $14,000 apiece - the price covered by Federal Cares Act funding. Each unit is about 40 cubic feet. 
"The vaccine is going to be distributed parts at a time," said Thomas Hardesty, Dir. Emergency Management and Homeland Security Oakland County. "There's not enough for the entire population. So you have to have a place to store it, before the federal government is even going to look at distributing the vaccine." 

That's why they want the freezers in place. Officials say the vaccine is expected to become available sometime in December.

Wayne County has yet to purchase freezers, but released a statement about their plans:

"The distribution of the vaccines will follow CDC guidelines and directives from the State of Michigan, which have detailed plans and protocols for prioritizing distribution to front-line healthcare workers, first responders, and vulnerable populations. Details of those plans will be outlined closer to the vaccine release date, once it is established." 

The state health department told FOX 2 from their survey there are currently 50 ultra-cold freezers in Michigan. Additionally, the department purchased nine to distribute across the state.

So far details of how the vaccine will be distributed are still taking shape. So much depends on the quantity of the vaccine made available.