North Carolina A&T State University has significantly supported its Greensboro, NC community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, thanks to the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory, a new shipment of freezers will help the school be more prepared than ever to provide vaccinations. Read the full story below for more details.

With doses of COVID-19 vaccine now being shipped around the country, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will be well prepared to receive its share, thanks to new deep cold storage units being distributed to 15 campuses of the University of North Carolina System.

Student Brenda Caldwell, courtesy of North Carolina Public Radio

The 61 freezers are being shipped to all UNC System research campuses. North Carolina A&T will receive two large Stirling Ultracold units and three smaller ones, creating capacity for cold storage of 117,600 COVID-19 vaccines. Those smaller units are mobile freezers, which will enable A&T to help serve underserved community populations.

The freezers are being provided by the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory, which was established by the state General Assembly in 2016 to utilize and disseminate research expertise across the University of North Carolina System for practical use by state and local government. In May 2020, state lawmakers appropriated $29 million to the Collaboratory to develop and oversee a pan-campus COVID-19 research portfolio that has resulted in more than 85 individual projects across 15 UNC System campuses, including A&T.

A Stirling Ultracold Unit, courtesy of PR Newswire

Once the freezers are in place, A&T staff will remotely monitor them to ensure they maintain sufficiently low temperatures to safely store the vaccines. The units will also have backup power connections to make certain they continue to operate properly in the event of an outage. 

The UNC System office will coordinate distribution of vaccines to system campuses with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Offices. Neither A&T nor its system peers will independently procure vaccines. 

“We are looking forward to receiving vaccines and being ready to serve our campus constituents and others as soon as possible,” said interim A&T Student Health Center Director Padonda Webb, DNP, FNP-BC. “With two vaccines already approved and more candidates in the pipeline, our hope is that vaccines will be readily available in the first half of the new year, helping us to effectively stem the spread of coronavirus and decrease the number of infections, illnesses and deaths caused by the disease.”