Cedars-Sinai among first hospitals across California to receive, distribute COVID-19 vaccines

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles will be among the first hospitals across California to store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines once one is approved.

The state's Department of Public Health says the facility was chosen based on its ultra-cold storage capabilities.

The first vaccine expected to the be approved by the Food and Drug Administration is the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored in negative 80-degree Celsius freezers.

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The governor announced the state would receive a little more than two million doses of the vaccine this month between Pfizer and Moderna.


"A freezer conservatively can hold 150,000 vaccines. It's probably a lot more than that," said Chief Pharmacy Officer Rita Shane.

Shane said once the emergency use authorization is granted, they'll start scheduling front line health care workers to get the vaccine. How many they can reach depends on how many doses they receive.

"We don't know if we're going to be giving vaccines to other health care workers besides Cedars-Sinai as of yet. That's an L.A. county determination. They're doing the allocation very thoughtfully," she added.

Shane said when the vaccine eventually goes to other distribution locations, it can be maintained with dry ice and refrigeration for a total of 20 days.

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The much-awaited Pfizer vaccine could be a game-changer - but it will have to be stored in ultra-cold conditions, which calls for ultra-cold freezers. Local pharmacies are scrambling to get their hands on this specialty equipment.


"The dry ice has to be replenished every five days. And then once that 15 days has elapsed, they can move it into a refrigerator, and in that refrigerator, the vaccines are good for another five days," she explained.

Since it's unknown how side effects such as fever, headache and fatigue will be tolerated, they're planning accordingly.

"We would want to make sure that we stagger health care workers from the same unit in the event that people don't feel quite right when they have vaccines and are unable to work, because we want to make sure we have health care workers for our patients," she said.

Besides front line health care workers, the staff and residents of long term care facilities will also be the first to get vaccinated. But experts say the rest of us should prepare ourselves.

"The more people educate themselves as we all should be doing regardless of what our role is, the more prepared we're going to be to make decisions for ourselves, our family members when the vaccine becomes more widely available," Shane said.

State officials said the seven hospitals that were chosen, including Cedars-Sinai, were also selected because they have large health care populations at "highest-risk."

Apart from their evenly-spaced location across California, those hospitals were also willing to redistribute the vaccines outside their facility and network.

The other hospitals that were selected are as follows:

  • Mercy Medical Center, Redding

  • Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego

  • UCD Health, Sacramento

  • UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco


  • Valley Children's Healthcare, Madera

  • Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital


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