Mayo Clinic gives inside look at ultracold freezers that will store COVID-19 vaccines

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic is gearing up to store tens of thousands of doses of the COVID19 vaccine.

To do so, the hospital is using ultracold freezers.

Up to 100,000 doses of vaccine can be housed in these freezers.

The hospital has multiple, and they’re on standby to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines that are expected to receive federal approval soon.

Jason Christensen is the Senior Director of Pharmacy at Mayo Clinic; he said the freezers are unique.

“These freezers are capable of going down to minus 86 degrees Celsius. And for reference, that would be equivalent to minus 122.8 degrees if we were looking at it in degrees Fahrenheit,” he said.

For even more perspective, Christensen said on average the South Pole in the middle of winter gets around negative 50 degrees Celsius.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at negative 70 degrees Celsius, so these freezers can get colder than the South Pole in the winter.

But that’s not the only aspect that makes the freezers special.

“Outside of the large outer door, they also have smaller inner doors. Both are insulated, and these are thicker insulation than you might find in your residential freezers. And that’s all-around maintaining those ultracool temperatures,” said Christensen.

With federal approval expected over the next few days, these freezers will soon be working overtime to help immunize local families.

The Mayo Clinic also has a process in place to monitor the temperatures on the freezers making sure they don’t fail. They’ve established three redundancies to triple check the temperatures 24/7.