FDA determines Pfizer vaccine can be stored in standard pharmaceutical freezers

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FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 file photo, a pharmacist prepares a syringe with Pfizer’s vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination site in New York (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine can be stored at normal pharmaceutical freezer temperatures, making it easier to transport and store the shot, the FDA said on Thursday.

Previously, the vaccine needed to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

The new guidance said that the vaccine can remain at freezer temperatures for up to two weeks before being administered.

“Pfizer submitted data to the FDA to support this alternative temperature for transportation and storage. This alternative temperature for transportation and storage of the undiluted vials is significant and allows the vials to be transported and stored under more flexible conditions. The alternative temperature for transportation and storage will help ease the burden of procuring ultra-low cold storage equipment for vaccination sites and should help to get vaccine to more sites,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Pfizer’s vaccine comes in two doses, which means those who are vaccinated are asked to return in three weeks to receive a booster. Distributing the vaccine has been more arduous due to the extremely cold temperatures required to store the vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of two coronavirus vaccines that have emergency use authorizations.

Pfizer said it hopes to have 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine distributed globally by the end of 2021.

On Thursday, the US passed 50 million Americans who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. About half of those 50 million are awaiting the second dose of the vaccine.

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