HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hospitals in the Tri-State Area are getting ready to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is widely being called a game changer by health care workers, and the first doses are expected to reach Hackensack University Medical Center any day, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports.

READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In New York: With Thousands Of Appointments Now Available, Some Local Leaders Voice Concerns About Vaccine Hesitancy

Doctors at the medical center don’t know exactly how much of the vaccine they’re getting yet, but a special storage freezer can hold about 4,000 doses.

RELATED STORY — COVID Vaccine: FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Emergency Use Authorization Of Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine

The freezer for the Pfizer vaccine needs to be ultra cold, minus-70 degrees, well below the usual standard for most other vaccines, which is 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Why? The technology in the COVID vaccine is fragile, so the ultra-cold temperature is needed to prevent the ingredients from breaking down.

READ MORE: Police Rescue Dog With Paw Caught In Escalator At Jersey City PATH Station


For security reasons, we aren’t able to say where the storage freezers are being kept inside the facility but can tell you Hackensack has been getting ready for delivery for several days.

Now deep in second wave, those doses can’t come soon enough.

“It certainly gives us a sense of relief, a sense of security that we’ll receive the vaccine and have that level of protection. It’s important to realize it’s a two-dose vaccine, and we’ll have to have the second dose 21 days after the first dose. We won’t really begin to see the immunity for 8-10 weeks after the second dose, so it’s going to be a process,” said Hackensack University Medical Center President Mark Sparta.

The hospital is still trying to prioritize its team members who are most at risk and therefore first in line. As long as everything goes according to plan, vaccinations at the medical center could begin next week.

MORE NEWS: Police Trying To Identify Man Accused Of Making Anti-Asian Statements Toward Woman At Upper East Side Subway Station