COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Posted on Jan 07, 2021 by Kristen Yawit

COVID-19 Update

Last month, the FDA authorized both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. Over 4 million doses have been administered during Phase 1a, which prioritizes healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Vaccine supply remains limited, and demand for the vaccine is high among healthcare workers.

As we move into the new year, Phase 1a of vaccine distribution is expected to continue. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted last month and recommended the following for the next phase of vaccine distribution:

  • Phase 1a: In Process! Healthcare workers and long-term care residents
  • Phase 1b: Persons 75 years and older and frontline workers (emergency responders, teachers, grocery store workers)
  • Phase 1c: Persons 65-74 years with underlying conditions and persons 16-64 with underlying conditions

Each state is responsible for managing the distribution of their vaccine allotment, and timelines for each phase varies state-by-state. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order mandating that people 65 and older be placed in Florida’s first wave of vaccine distribution, and older people in that state started receiving vaccines as early as December. Similarly, Texas has begun vaccinating those in both Phase 1a and 1b. As more information on the vaccines and distribution becomes available, updates will be made to the CDC website.

Cold chain management remains critical to the success of vaccine distribution, and the CDC released the COVID-19 Vaccination Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations last year, and added an addendum to the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit to address cold storage management and requirements for the COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine providers are directed to refer to the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit for recommendations.

Vaccine product specific information was recently added to the CDC’s website to address specific vaccine storage requirements for Pfizer and Moderna.

Pfizer-COVID-19 Vaccine: Pfizer’s vaccine requires storage at ultra-low temperatures between -80°C and -60°C, and may be refrigerated between 2°C and 8°C for up to 5 days after the vaccine is thawed.

Moderna- COVID-19 Vaccine: Moderna’s vaccine may be stored in a freezer between -25°C and -15°C up to expiration or beyond use date (BUD). Vaccine vials should be kept in their box and placed in freezer. The Moderna vaccine can also be refrigerated between 2°C and 8°C for up to 30 days prior to first use.


As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues and potential for additional vaccines to receive EUA in 2021, it is important to stay up to date with vaccine storage and handling requirements. In addition to the information found on the CDC’s website, we have created a Vaccine Storage Readiness Guide that provides additional information on appropriate cold storage to help vaccine providers prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine. Click the link below to learn more.

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Kristen Yawit

Written by Kristen Yawit

With over 5 years of experience in healthcare marketing strategy and pharmacy product development and management, Kristen is the Segment Marketing Manager at Helmer Scientific, focused on the Pharmacy and Vaccine segments.

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