University of Wisconsin Health received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech Monday morning.

As Wisconsin surpasses 4,000 deaths and 390,000 recovered cases, UW Health prepares to vaccinate its medical staff with its first shipment of vaccines. UW Health will immediately begin to vaccinate its employees Monday afternoon in accordance with federal and state guidelines to first vaccinate frontline healthcare workers, according to a statement provided by UW Health to The Badger Herald. 

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The UW Health vaccine shipment will be stored in ultra-cold storage freezers as hospital staff preps for its distribution, according to UW Health’s statement. In an interview with Pharmacy Manager Aaron Webb provided by UW Health, Webb said the freezers must be between negative 60 and 90 degrees Celsius. 

Once the vaccine is removed from its shipping containers, Webb said it must be transferred to storage within three to five minutes.

“Every time we transport the vaccine, whether it be to a new storage condition or a new facility where we are going to be administering the vaccine, we have to monitor the temperature continuously through that transportation and storage process,” Webb said.

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Wisconsin plans to receive 49,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and about 101,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna in the near future — granted the Moderna vaccine receives emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Webb said UW was specifically selected as one of the initial facilities to receive the vaccine because of its capacities to store the vaccine and the amount of people at UW Health who qualify to receive the vaccine first as frontline workers. 

“So, the initial group of people who would be getting the vaccine, we have a significant amount within UW Health,” Webb said. 

While UW Health will begin administering the vaccine immediately Monday, Webb said the facilities expect to receive more shipments of the vaccine week by week.

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After frontline workers receive the vaccine, Webb said UW Health will begin helping with the next groups in the vaccination process.

“It’s a very exciting time,” Webb said.