Oakland County installs freezers for COVID-19 vaccine

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News
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In anticipation of receiving the first allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Oakland County Health Division on Friday installed 10 medical grade laboratory freezers capable of providing the extreme cold that the doses will require.

Workers prepare to install one of 10 medical grade laboratory freezers delivered Friday at Oakland County health facilities in anticipation of COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as next week.

A first shipment of the vaccine is expected next week.

“We are anxious to get the vaccine to our first responders and health care workers as soon as they arrive,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said. “We moved quickly to ensure we had the adequate storage capability to meet the needs of the county. As more vaccine arrives, we will move on to additional priority groups working hand in glove with our health experts."

The freezers — which cost $400,000 and are being paid for with federal CARES Act funding —  can keep temperatures as low as -86 degrees Celsius. One of the vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer, requires that it be stored at -70 C.

Each freezer can hold 144,000 doses of the vaccine.

The freezers come as the Oakland County Health Division launched a public education campaign this week to emphasize how important it is to keep wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and stay home when sick until the vaccine is widely available.

Meanwhile, the health division continues to perform free COVID-19 testing and give flu shots. Appointments are required. Call 1-800-848-5533.

Locations/times include:

  • Monday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Old Holly Fire Station, 313 S. Broad St, Holly.
  • Tuesday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Rochester Fire Station, 277 E. Second St., Rochester. 
  • Wednesday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Southfield City Hall Employee Parking Deck, 26000 Evergreen Road, Southfield.
  • Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Pontiac Fire Station, 348 South Blvd W., Pontiac.

Michigan health officials on Friday detailed which "essential workers" would be first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after health care workers and nursing home residents under a detailed distribution plan.

Health care employees who work directly with COVID-19 patients will have top priority, along with with nursing home residents who are most vulnerable to the virus. 

Next on the priority list are essential workers, such as K-12 schools, child care staff, utility workers and emergency services employees.

Karen Bouffard contributed.

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