Bengals helping Bengals” is how Idaho State University got involved in a plan to share freezers cold enough to store the COVID-19 vaccine with health districts statewide.
David Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and ISU alumni, knew the state was going to need cold storage of -70 degrees Celsius to store the incoming Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at each of its seven health district facilities around the state. But with freezers for several of the health districts on back order or with delayed delivery, Jeppesen had a problem.
Rex Force, vice president for health sciences and senior vice provost at Idaho State knew the university could help. He contacted Jeppesen with a proposal: he wondered if some of the freezers that normally store a variety of biological specimens could be used to store the COVID vaccine.
On Dec. 14, Southeastern Idaho Public Health received a freezer that the College of Pharmacy’s Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences department had been waiting to use because of delays to their research due to the pandemic.
Just in time for Christmas next week, North Idaho’s Panhandle Health District 1 will receive another freezer from ISU’s Anthropology Department. Dr. John Dudgeon, associate professor and research scientist quickly relocated the existing materials stored in that freezer to prepare it for shipping next week.
“There are at least half a dozen freezers that are capable of storing materials at these extremely low temperatures,” says Force, “either at our main campus in Pocatello or at branch campuses in Meridian and Idaho Falls. We drew up a quick agreement to loan them to these health districts for a year, which can be renegotiated depending on their needs at that time.”
In the future, should other health districts or vaccine dispensing facilities be in need of storage freezers that can maintain the cold temperatures required for the Pfizer vaccine, ISU is willing to help.