The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved Montana State University as a COVID-19 vaccine provider for its students. According to a press release from the university, MSU is making plans to store and distribute the vaccine.

“We are planning as far ahead as we can, as it will be a complicated process to store and administer the vaccine,” said Jim Mitchell, associate vice president for student wellness at MSU.

In order to receive approval to be a vaccine provider, the university had to show the CDC that it had access to subzero freezers, which are needed to store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as well as redundant electrical power. The Pfizer COVID vaccine requires storage at temperatures minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit or below, while the Moderna COVID vaccine must be stored in temps below minus 4 degrees.

“We’re doing the backup electrical systems this week,” Mitchell said. “The setup and operation of the freezers will be done well in advance of the arrival of the vaccines.”

Here in Gallatin County, the first vaccines were issued to front-line health care workers on Monday. First-responders and long-term health care facility patients are also first in line to receive the new COVID vaccine.

“It’s very important for everyone to remember that we still need to be vigilant about wearing our masks and staying socially distanced,” Mitchell said. “Just because vaccines are on the way is no reason for us to let up on our discipline. Thousands of people are still dying every day across the country, and our health care system is very stressed. There is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is still very long.”