New Jersey business providing dry ice for hospitals to store COVID-19 vaccine
The owner of Dry Ice Depot in Bridgewater is busy making sure hospitals have what they need this week, as 76,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are getting distributed across New Jersey - vaccines that must be kept extremely cold.
Dry ice pellets at a temperature of negative 109 degrees are perfect for keeping the vaccines stored safely.
“We've doubled [supply orders] in just the past three months,” says owner Chris Vida. “Companies not only [have] the vaccine testing going on for the better part of this year. We are right in the pharmaceutical hotbed of New Jersey. A lot of labs have opened up around here and it's been a tremendous boom for business.”
Vida never thought he'd play a role in the first rollout of what hopes to be the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was the furthest thing from my mind when I heard several months ago Pfizer had a pending approval for a vaccine it needed,” says Vida. “It was problematic how it was going to be kept cold. One of the suggestions was dry ice and I was like, ‘yes that's great news’ and it's developed into something nice and I'm very happy to be part of the operation.”
Pfizer's vaccine requires a storage temperature of negative 70 to negative 90 degrees. “It's a perishable product,” says Vida. “It sublimates, it does not evaporate, so it doesn't puddle, doesn't leave anything. It goes from a solid to a gas. That's what's nice about dry ice, it doesn't damage any packaging or boxes you use to refrigerate something. You can put it in a cardboard box and the box doesn't get wet."
Vida says as the rollout continues, more health clinics will need supplies of dry ice as the Pfizer product becomes more readily available.
“Initially, it's going to a hospital, it is going to be dispersed to the community. Hospitals can't be the only ones giving out [a] vaccine for this, it’s got to go to smaller facilities that's where we come into play. We have to be mobile. Get there quick to keep this stuff refrigerated.”
Touching the dry ice can lead to burns, so you have to wear insulated gloves. It's also best when dealing with large amounts of dry ice to make sure the area is well ventilated because it’s frozen carbon dioxide, which then turns into pure carbon dioxide gas.