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ISU lab freezers help store vaccine for Southeastern Idaho Public Health

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Courtesy of Idaho State University

POCATELLO — The recently approved and now-being-distributed COVID-19 vaccine demands a holding temperature of -70 degrees Celsius.

That demand has given purpose to ISU’s relatively new laboratory freezers.

Idaho State University’s department of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences owns the freezers, which can store substances at -86 degrees Celsius. The were purchased early in 2020.

But now, with a new freezer purchased by Southeastern Idaho Public Health not scheduled to arrive until January, ISU will hold southeast Idaho’s allotment of the vaccine as it is being administered.

“We actually got two of these freezers for our labs in Pocatello early this year but only began using one of them before the pandemic caused us to move to distance-based instruction and significantly impacted our research,” ISU professor Marvin Schulte said in a news release. “We didn’t even fully unwrap the second one, but we knew we would need it eventually. I’m glad that they will be able to use it.”

ISU’s freezer, a Thermo Scientific Revco RLE Series Ultra-Low Freezer, is designed to hold substances like DNA.

Students of the ISU biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences may also be called into action to help immunize residents. Local hospitals have reached out to ISU in search of assistance with mass immunizations, the release said.

Dr. Kevin Cleveland of ISU’s College of Pharmacy said that the student pharmacists are ready to do what is needed.

“That’s going to be where we can help the most, by having students available to give shots,” Cleveland said in the release. “Our students are experienced. …The drive-up flu shot clinics we have already done helped prepare the students in an even more realistic scenario to be ready for the COVID vaccine.”

The vaccine, produced by Pfizer, was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 10. A second vaccine, by Modera ,has also received tentative approval by the FDA.

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