Mason Technology supplies Laboratory Equipment to the HSE for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Mason Technology, Ireland’s leading and largest supplier of scientific solutions to laboratories, has supplied the Health Service Executive (HSE) with freezers, refrigerators, and vital laboratory equipment to support the rollout of Ireland’s ongoing National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
As the European Medicines Agency (EMA) evaluated vaccines from different manufacturers, the Irish Government established the High-Level Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccination on November the 10th with the objective of developing a Strategy and Implementation Plan that delivered a safe, effective, efficient, and agile COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
Subject to authorisation from the EMA, Ireland’s supply of vaccines was expected to come from several different manufacturers, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Upon arrival in Ireland, the country’s vaccine supply would be stored at a central location that was managed by the HSE National Cold Chain Service. With all vaccines having varying temperature storage requirements and the scale of the COVID-19 vaccination programme being much larger than any previous vaccination programme, storage and distribution would be a highly complex cog in the supply chain process.
Mason Technology secures contract to supply laboratory equipment, including freezers, required for COVID-19 Vaccines
In November 2020, Mason Technology secured the first contract to supply freezers required by the HSE to store the country’s vaccine supply. The HSE expected the first vaccine supply to arrive in Ireland to be the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine followed closely by the Moderna vaccine.
Working closely with our partners Eppendorf and B Medical Systems, Mason Technology successfully coordinated the procurement and delivery of freezers suitable for storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at ultra-cold storage temperatures of -70°C ± 10°C (Eppendorf F470 freezers) and the Moderna vaccine at temperatures in the -15°C to -25°C range (B Medical F700 freezers).
The Eppendorf F470 ultra-low temperature freezers for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines shipped to Ireland via Rotterdam, Netherland. Arriving in Dublin Port on the 1st of December 2020, they were immediately transported, under Garda escort, to the central storage facility managed by the HSE National Cold Chain Service.
Later that month, the B Medical F700 freezers for the country’s supply of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Ireland having shipped from Luxembourg.
As countries raced to buy specialist freezers for their vaccine supplies, the extremely short lead time between placement of the order by the HSE and the arrival of the freezers in Ireland was a hugely impressive achievement for the Mason Technology Procurement and Logistics team.
Getting the freezers commissioned and ready to store Ireland’s vaccine supply
On arrival and prior to use, all freezers had to be validated to meet quality control standards and regulatory compliance. Working closely with the HSE National Cold Chain Centre, Mason Technology specialists commissioned and validated the freezers to ensure the optimal conditions for storing the vaccines.
- An Installation Qualification (IQ) verified that the freezers had been properly delivered and that the area where they would be stored had the correct environmental conditions.
- The Operational Qualification (OQ) involved testing the freezer and ensuring it performed as per the manufacturer specifications.
- The final step of the quality assurance process, the Performance Qualification, involved further testing of the freezers, the associated systems, and the operational processes to ensure they all functioned as expected. This stage included 24-hour temperature mapping of empty and loaded freezers in line with INAB ISO 17025 standards.
With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receiving authorisation from the EMA on the 21st of December, the HSE National Cold Chain Centre was ready to take delivery of the first doses of the vaccine when they arrived in the country on the 26th of December. Authorisation for the Moderna vaccine followed on the 6th of January 2021 and the HSE National Cold Chain Centre took delivery of the first doses of the vaccine on the 12th of January.
Facilitating vaccine storage in locations across the country
While the country’s vaccine supply was stored centrally, the rollout of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme required the vaccines to be administered from vaccination locations across the country. To ensure their potency and to comply with regulations, the vaccines had to be transported and stored at a temperature range of between 2°C to 8°C prior to administration. Mason Technology supplied suitable refrigerators to the HSE for use at the vaccination locations. The refrigerators had to be commissioned on-site and our service co-ordinators worked closely with the HSE to manage the often-complex logistics of this.
To date, our service engineers have commissioned refrigerators in nursing homes, hospitals, and mass vaccination centres in locations as dispersed as Wexford, Kerry, Galway, Sligo, and Louth. The commissioning included temperature mapping to INAB ISO 17025 certified levels to ensure that the fridge met manufacturer specifications.
Transportation equipment to support the vaccination rollout programme
In addition to freezers and refrigerators, Mason Technology has supplied the HSE with vital transportation equipment to support the rollout of the vaccination programme. Vaccine transport boxes facilitate the secure transportation of the vaccines from the central storage facility to the vaccination locations. Temperature data loggers offer an easy method of measuring and recording temperatures of vaccine containers, such as refrigerators and freezers over a prolonged period, for example during transit and storage. Trays nicknamed ‘pizza boxes’ securely hold 195 vials of vaccine per tray during transportation.
Header image: Pictured are Chair of the Covid-19 vaccination taskforce Professor Brian MacCraith, Chairperson of the High-Level Task Force , Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD , Paul Reid, Country Manager, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland and Paul Reid, CEO, HSE pictured as the HSE Takes delivery of the first doses of Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan
For information on the vaccine storage and transportation solutions and services supplied to the HSE:
Patrick Healy is a sales manager in our General laboratory and Life Science department with specialist knowledge of our comprehensive range of products and services that will facilitate the safe storage and transportation of vaccines. Get in touch with Patrick today if you would like further information.
Sales Manager for General Laboratory & Life Science
M: +353 87 995 9701
DD: +353 1 4154414