At a Senate health committee hearing to get an update from federal officials in charge of the official response to COVID-19, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., asked about possible problems accessing a vaccine in rural areas like Wyoming.
Enzi noted that some of the vaccines in Phase III testing need to be stored at temperatures as low as negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit. He said many facilities do not have the specialized freezers necessary to store the vaccine, especially in cash-strapped or rural areas.
“Some of the vaccines in Phase III testing would evidently need to be stored at extremely cold temperature – that’s even by Wyoming standards,” Enzi said. “Very few, if any, freezers even go that cold. How can we ensure sufficient freezer and storage capacity so that access to the vaccine is not limited by infrastructure concerns?”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said the CDC would work to distribute the vaccine in an equitable and fair way. He said over the upcoming weeks, there will need to be strategies that will fill the gaps for proper cold storage and that the CDC is committed to making sure the distribution happens in an equitable way.
Redfield also assured Enzi that the CDC is working to ensure states are prepared to distribute a vaccine once it is approved, including sharing best practices and working to create micro-plans for different areas of the country.