Media Covers Dominican's Role For Vaccine Storage In Marin

San Francisco television stations KTVU Fox 2, KGO ABC 7, KCBS radio, and the Marin Independent Journal talked with Dominican University of California this week about its upcoming role assisting the County of Marin with the storage — and possible distribution — of the coronavirus vaccine.

As Marin Public Health prepares to receive the first coronavirus vaccinations in late December, Dominican has stepped up to offer to store the Pfizer vaccine in the University’s ultra-low temperature biomedical freezers.

Dominican also is talking with Marin Public Health about students in the Department of Nursing assisting with immunizing the vaccine’s first recipients — Marin’s essential health care workers, hospital workers, the staff at long-term care facilities, and first responders.

“As an institution that prepares students for careers in the health care and the health sciences, we are delighted to partner with Marin Public Health to help protect the health of essential workers during this pandemic,” says Marly Norris, Dominican’s Vice President of Advancement and Public Affairs. Norris serves as the University’s COVID-19 lead.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses spaced out three weeks to be effective. A report in the Marin Independent Journal noted that the county estimates it will need to store 20,000 Pfizer vaccine doses at ultra-cold temperatures. Dominican has three ultra-low temperature biomedical freezers that can operate at minus 80 Celsius.

Dominican’s faculty researchers use the freezers to store samples, biological materials, and chemical reagents for research in the University’s biological sciences and biochemistry programs. This includes research focused on medical parasitology, genetics, and plant pathogens. Dominican’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics offers undergraduate degrees in biological sciences, chemistry, and biochemistry.

The biomedical freezers provide a consistent temperature for sample storage. The ultra-low temperature allows for samples to be stored at an even temperature for a long period of time.
Two other Marin research institutions — The Buck Institute for Research on Aging and BioMarin — also have stepped up to work with Marin Public Health. Dominican partners with both the Buck and BioMarin to offer an innovative research-based Master’s degree in Biological Sciences

Dominican has worked closely with Marin Public Health since the beginning of the pandemic — on issues around campus occupancy, the Campus Health and Safety Plan, a campus-wide pooled testing regimen, and a contact tracing course.

The pooled testing was the result of a $1 million gift Dominican received in July to support the University’s response to COVID-19 while also seeding a wide range of new initiatives with particular support for the athletics program.

The anonymous gift is funding widespread COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Dominican follows a pooled testing regimen that allows for multiple people to be screened in one test, greatly reducing the cost of supplies and staffing and shortening the wait for results. The molecular (PCR) test detects viral material for weeks after the infectious period.

In July, Dominican partnered with the County of Marin to develop a course to train Dominican students to work as contact tracers as part of the public health response to the pandemic. Marin County Health and Human Services is providing funding for the online course. 

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