PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
"This was very good news to receive concerning the storage requirements," says Asti Drug pharmacist Dr. Chris Antypas.
The FDA allowed this increase from five days to a month in the fridge after Pfizer submitted data showing the vaccine remains stable for that long at 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It takes time to try different settings, test those things and it's just a time-consuming process. So we've seen this gradual shift," Antypas explains.
When the vaccine first came out, it required deep-freeze storage, which made it hard to transport and keep. Now it can be put in the regular freezer for up to two weeks.
"There is still definitely a need for the deep freezers," says Antypas. "Who knows what the future is going to bring."
Other mRNA vaccines could be coming that may initially need ultra-cold storage. But the extended refrigeration period could make vaccines accessible to more people.
"Now that we have this expanded access to put the product in the refrigerator, we can go to a clinic that's a little further away without having as many concerns," says Antypas.
Asti Drug has been able to take the vials from the South Hills to workplaces downtown and in the North Hills.
"We had refrigeration available for them, but they also had coolers of their own," says Zoll's Leslie Cunningham. "Having everything brought on site was really helpful and it also allowed our off-site employees to come on-site to be vaccinated. We opened up to family members as well."
"They may not be as interested in going out of their way to go get the vaccine, but if the vaccine comes to them, while they're at work, why not, I'll get it, and maybe I'll bring my 17- or 15-year-old child to work that day and have them taken care of as well," Antypas says.
The portability is a definite advantage. Nancy Alauzen got the Moderna vaccine, but she is so grateful it came to her at a senior community center.
"Having it brought to me was wonderful," Nancy says. "Just the convenience was just so positive."
More than 149 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been given in the U.S. That's more than half of all doses. It is also authorized for use in the widest age range of all currently available vaccines: 12 and up.
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