RESOURCE: Use the American Red Cross (ARC) to support distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
GIVEN: The vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees F.
ARC RESOURCES (THEY HAVE):
I used to work at my local ARC blood components manufacturing lab. THEY HAVE THE FOLLOWING CAPABILITIES (e.g.):
1. FREEZER: Rare blood is stored in a large deep walk-in freezer at -70 degrees F.
2. QUALITY CONTROL: Inventory is maintained under scheduled quality control procedures, including the Freezers.
3. DISTRIBUTION: Distribution areas are connected to the building, including unloading docks (used for unloading blood units from remote blood drives).
4. FACILITY: ARC has more than 600 chapters and 36 Blood Services regions in the U.S. The building has a lobby with blood collection area that can be repurposed for vaccination.
5. PERSONNEL: People are in the building 24/7, are trained in Blood Borne Pathogens and to utilize PPE, but they are not nurses.
6. EQUIPMENT: Facilities are equipped with e.g. PPE, medical chairs suitable for vaccinating the public, and thick jackets with hood and gloves necessary to enter the very cold (-70 temp) freezer (for 3 minutes).
7. SECURITY: The building has physical security and personnel.
ARC NEEDS (e.g.):
1. FREEZER: We need to know if the freezer is capable of achieving -94 degrees F. Also, the freezers were usually ~half full, and the vaccine would need to be securely partitioned away from the blood. We also need to know what impact there would be on the blood, to have the freezer at -94 degrees F.
2. COMPLIANCE: WILL ARC SUPPORT THE DISTRIBUTION EFFORT willingly or as per the Defense Production Act?
3. GIS AND LOGISTICS: Full GIS and logistical evaluation would be needed.
4. TRANSFORMATION: An assessment would be needed to determine exactly what criteria must be met to partially transform these facilities into vaccine distribution areas.
I have no knowledge of the U.S. National Stockpile capability or local Hospital and Health Department capability. If additional resources are needed, the ARC might be useful to (at least partially) support distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccination. Assessment of the capability of the freezer is high priority. It is unclear at this point how effective the workflow would be and how well they can handle the workload given the circumstances and ARC available resources. Further evaluation is required.