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The American BioTech U-86 is capable of keeping the Pfizer vaccine at its recommended minus-80 degree Celsius temperature.

Ultra-Cold Freezer at BMC Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center was prepared Monday for the first delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.
The vaccine, given emergency authorization for use last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, must be kept at super cold temperatures of at least minus-70 degree Celsius. It's being distributed in a packaging — the so-called "pizza box" — that will allow doses to be kept cold with dry ice for at least a few weeks. 
But it's easier to use an ultra-cold freezer, which arrived at BMC on Wednesday from the Berkshire Innovation Center.
The American BioTech U-86 ultra-low temperature freezer is on loan to the hospital at no cost. 
"We are deeply grateful to the Berkshire Innovation Center and its staff for helping Berkshire Health Systems in its efforts to effectively distribute the COVID-10 vaccine," Director of Media Relations Michael Leary wrote in an email.
The freezer is in operation at a staggering minus-80 degrees Celsius, as cold as the South Pole. It is capable of holding up to 2,000 doses of the vaccine, which has to be stored at this temperature to maintain its stability. 
Gov. Charlie Baker last week said the Pfizer vaccine will be provided to all individuals without charge through a three-phase process that prioritizes high-risk individuals in health care and congregate care settings.
Berkshire Medical Center is one of the 21 hospitals in the state selected to begin receiving the novel coronavirus vaccine this month. It is expected to get at least one of the batches that yield 975 doses and to vaccinate all willing employees in order of priority. This particular vaccine requires two inoculations a few weeks apart.
BMC staff will protect their hands by using ultra-cold sensitive gloves to retrieve the vaccine. A wireless monitoring system similar to other systems BMC uses for its regular freezers will be installed so that staff can be immediately alerted if any variation in temperature should occur.

Tags: COVID-19,   vaccinations,   

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Methuselah Loses License for Two Days

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A bar and restaurant owned by a city councilor had its license suspended for two days for violating state COVID-19 guidelines.

On Monday, the Licensing Board voted to suspend Councilor at Large Yuki Cohen's liquor license for Methuselah Bar and Lounge, scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, after a hearing for three alleged pandemic violation complaints that included pictures and anonymous testimony.

Because of the anonymous nature of the evidence submitted, the board weighed in on the fact that this is not Cohen's first time in front of the Licensing Board, as Methuselah faced a five-day liquor license suspension in 2018.

"I feel like in light of what the history is, I don't think we can just pretend that there's no history,"  Chairman Thomas Campoli said, concluding with the other board members that this case had to be handled differently than if it was a first violation.

On Jan. 15, the board held a hearing for two of the violations occurring on Aug. 22 and Dec. 11. It was decided to continue the hearing for the third violation and voting until Monday, Jan. 25.

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