Proper storage, shipping a priority as vaccine rolls out

Mount Horeb company gains interest for refrigeration monitoring service

MOUNT HOREB, Wis. – Even during abnormal times, OneEvent Technologies CEO Kurt Wedig’s work focuses in on the opposite.

“We learn normal,” Wedig said. “By learning normal, it’s kind of like your heartbeat.”

At OneEvent in Mount Horeb, they monitor temperature data from clients’ refrigerators using sensors. Using an algorithm developed by the company, they predict days – even a month – in advance that something’s wrong.

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, that detection is more important than ever. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in ultra-cold freezers between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.

“It’s a really unique angle – something we’re already doing,” Wedig said. “We can do all variations of temperatures too, from ultra-cold like the Pfizer vaccine, to the normal vaccines that Moderna might come out with or other ones.”

Health officials have called the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines the most significant public health undertaking of our lifetimes, and much of that centers on getting it where it needs to go and storing it properly to keep any of it from going to waste.

Both FedEx and UPS are part of the nationwide delivery process.

FedEx is proud to be delivering COVID-19 vaccines to communities across the United States,” a FedEx statement read. “The safety and security of our team members and these critical shipments is our top priority, so we are unable to confirm details about individual shipments.”

UPS said in a statement that the Pfizer vaccines it’s shipping will originally come from storage sites in Wisconsin and Michigan before being transported to facilities in Louisville, where they will be expedited to destinations including hospitals and clinics.

“UPS is uniquely equipped to deliver sterile and temperature sensitive healthcare products,” a UPS statement said. “For more than 15 years, and under our newly organized UPS Healthcare division, UPS has been methodically building its expertise and capabilities in this highly specialized area of logistics.”

That attention to detail carries over to when the vaccines are dropped at their destinations, including designated hubs such as UW Health.

“We have to monitor the temperature continuously through that transportation and storage process,” UW Health pharmacy manager Aaron Webb said.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, any providers receiving the vaccine must complete a checklist to confirm they’re prepared.

“This checklist reviews items such as completing training on safe handling of the vaccine,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.

One of the main losses of vaccines is because of temperature variation, according to Wedig.

“It’s just so critical that the temperatures are right to make sure you have a safe product,” he said.

In recent weeks, Wedig said that OneEvent has gotten a lot of interest from health care providers, not only the state but nationwide, looking for another tool to ensure their vaccinations are properly stored.

“We’re happy to be a part of it to help make people safe,” he said. “I’ve just got to do a big shout out to all the health care workers on the frontlines. OneEvent can’t thank them enough for all that they do. We’re just a small part of what’s really going on out there.”