SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Solid carbon dioxide, also known as dry ice, is a crucial part of delivering the COVID Pfizer vaccine across Louisiana, with the vaccine requiring storage at a chilly temperature well below zero.
Red Ball Oxygen of Shreveport already has a 4,000-pound order of dry ice for fellow Shreveport-owned pharmaceutical delivery company, Morris & Dickson, that will be delivering the Pfizer vaccine statewide.
Red Ball Oxygen CEO, Alex Kennedy, says they can produce about 600 pounds of dry ice per hour and expect to soon be making more dry ice than ever before. The company plans to scale up production very quickly to meet the demand. The exact delivery details of the vaccine will depend on a variety of factors.
“Everybody’s kind of waiting to see how many they’re going to get, how long it’s going to last, how fast they’re going to use it,” Red Ball Oxygen CEO Alex Kennedy said. “It has to be stored at negative 90 degrees or thereabouts the whole time. So, dry ice is going to be absolutely critical because once the vaccine rises above that temperature it goes bad.”
Kennedy says Red Ball Oxygen’s dry ice will be accompanying the vaccine shipments all over the region.
“Dry ice is gonna really be kind of the unsung hero in this whole distribution and logistics scheme,” Kennedy said.
Larger hospital systems will receive direct shipments of the vaccine. Morris & Dickson will distribute the rest to about 200 medical facilities statewide. Pfizer is just the first of several vaccines expected to be ultimately distributed.
There’s a sense of urgency in getting the vaccine out.
“Ten-thousand people an hour are contracting this disease in the United States,” Morris & Dickson President Paul Dickson said. “If we get it to these facilities one hour earlier there will be people who will not contract COVID because we got it there an hour earlier.”