COLUMBIA - As the United States gets closer to administering a COVID-19 vaccine, MU Health Care is ready to play it's part in distribution.

The Pfizer vaccine, which is the first vaccine expected to given out, has to be stored at extremely cold temperatures. MU Health Care has an ultra cold storage site where the vaccine will be stored when it becomes available.

Brad Myers, Executive Director of Pharmacy and Laboratory Sciences at MU Health Care, said they will be ready to handle the vaccine.

"We do anticipate we will receive the vaccine in the first release," Myers said.

Healthcare workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities will be the in the first phase of distribution. In this phase, MU Health Care will handle the distribution.

"We do anticipate we will be staffed adequately for the vaccine administration process," Myers said.

The facility can hold up to 39,000 doses and contains freezers with a temperature of 70 degrees below zero. Myers walked a KOMU 8 reporter through the process of how MU Health Care will handle the vaccine when it arrives.

"We will receive the vaccine package with dry ice, Myers said. "Once the vaccines are received, we would move the vaccines to our ultra cold freezer."

As soon as the vaccines are taken out of the freezer, workers have to act fast when administering it.

"Once we reconstitute or dilute the vaccine, it is stable for six hours at room temperature," Myers said.

Boone Hospital Center told KOMU 8 News they also have ultra cold storage capability, but don't know yet if they will store the COVID-19 vaccine.

Even with the good news surrounding the vaccine, Myers said it's still very important to wear a mask and follow safety guidelines.

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