FAS units worked together to purchase and install COVID-19 vaccine freezers

Initially, the Pfizer vaccine was the only approved COVID-19 vaccine, and it required storage in an ultra-low, -80 degree freezer. To be able to receive and properly store the Pfizer vaccine, the university took steps that included purchasing and installing these freezers. Consequently, UT received the Pfizer vaccine and was able to begin vaccinating staff who are frontline health care workers in December 2020.

The project is notable for its close coordination and teamwork among units across FAS, said Shannon Hanney, manager of In-House Construction for Project Management and Construction Services (PMCS). Along with PMCS, scoping and planning was done in early December by Facilities Operations and Maintenance (FOM), Utilities and Energy Management, Environmental Health and Safety, and Emergency Preparedness. PMCS was responsible for freezer delivery and installation. Information Technology Services (ITS) installed a special secure wireless network for the monitoring systems used by the freezers.

Business and Financial Services (BFS) Procurement & Warehousing was responsible for purchasing the freezers, which presented a bit of a challenge, according to Marcus Grimes, associate director of BFS Procurement & Warehousing.

“We were given an aggressive budget and delivery deadline to meet,” Grimes said. “By working closely with potential suppliers, we found and ordered the freezers to meet both requirements.”

Meanwhile, PMCS worked closely with the clients within the buildings receiving the freezers to minimize disruption to their operations during installation, said Hanney. To prepare for the freezers’ installation, PMCS had to install new and dedicated electrical circuits for each. Additionally, a new, special-order, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) was installed at one of the freezer locations to provide emergency backup power. Emergency power for the other two freezers was already provided by an existing backup generator. Hanney explained that the freezers also needed to be connected to central alarm systems to monitor operational status, coordinated by FOM.

Hanney said all the units involved truly came together as one team to make the project a success.

“Much of our support to campus is performed behind the scenes, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of our work,” Hanney said. “This project is a tangible example of how FAS employees make a positive impact, not just on our campus, but also to the greater community. Our contributions literally have the potential to help save lives, and I continue to be amazed by the talent and commitment of our team members across the FAS portfolio.”

Picture of receiving covid vaccination
Purchase and installation of -80 freezers by FAS staff allowed proper storage of the COVID-19 vaccine before being administered.
March 2, 2021