County will soon store their own vaccines, unexpected donation affords 2 additional freezers


DEL NORTE COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM)-The Del Norte Board of Supervisors approved back, in December, $5,200 budget transfer to the public health branch to purchase an ultra-cold freezer to store the COVID-19 Vaccine.

The specialized freezer arrived Monday – along with a generous donation.

“Not only did we order a freezer, but we also had two freezers to donated to us,” said the Del Norte County Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt.

The freezers – which cost about $4,000 each – could not have come at a better time – all that’s left to do is set them up – which could take a while.  

“You have to get it cold, I mean you have to put in temperature monitoring probes and, so we are not ready to store our own vaccine yet, but at least we have the freezers in the county,”   he said.

Rehwaldt says, it’s a move in the right direction.

For the last month, Del Norte County personnel were tasked with making the trek to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka – to get their share of the Pfizer vaccine – which must be stored in extremely cold temperatures.

“We take it out of their freezer and then we bring it back up here and we keep it refrigerated and then of course we have to use it up that week, we have a five-day window,” he said.

Rehwaldt says the anonymous donation will afford the county to have two freezers used for storage and a one for back-up.

“We think that’s going to continue for a while because we still have a lot of vaccines on demand, so to speak,” he said.

Once those vaccines are gone – Rehwaldt says – they will likely be able to order and store their own pfizer vaccine allocation.

According to the Del Norte County Health Department – as of Monday – there are 7 new confirmed COVID-19 cases – with 88 active cases – 2 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.