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Mee Memorial Aquarium Freezer Release #4

  • Category: News, Press Releases
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  • Written By: Mee Memorial Hospital

Mee Memorial Healthcare System Expands Its COVID-19 Vaccine Capacity With Helping Hand From Monterey Bay Aquarium

KING CITY, CA. (Feb. 17, 2021)  — Mee Memorial Healthcare System is getting much-needed help from an unusual benefactor; the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which will provide an ultra-low temperature freezer for storing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, allowing Mee to administer more vaccines, especially to underserved and disproportionately impacted communities.

Mee Memorial currently administers the Moderna in its vaccine clinics, which does not require special storage. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures in a special freezer. Ultra-low temperature freezers are in high demand and short supply across the U.S. The addition of the freezer means that Mee can begin offering both types of vaccines.

“While vaccines remain in short supply in Monterey County, this is great news,” said Rena Salamacha, CEO at Mee Memorial Healthcare System. “When the state and county release more Pfizer vaccines, this freezer will help to expand our ability to inoculate even more people in South County, keeping our communities safe and prioritized. We are so grateful for Monterey County Supervisor Chris M. Lopez’s help in arranging this match.”

The Aquarium uses ultra-low temperature freezers to store research samples at its state-of-the-art Juli Plant Grainger Animal Care Center. When they opened the Center in 2018, they acquired a second freezer as back-up. Because they had extra capacity, the Aquarium loaned the freezer to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas in December. Natividad was acquiring its own freezer so no longer needed it.

“We are so happy that Mee Memorial can put the freezer to good use,” said Aquarium Public Affairs Director Barbara Meister, who serves on a countywide COVID-19 Collaborative. “It’s so important to create more equity in vaccine distribution to our communities that have suffered disproportionately because of historic lack of access to health care. This freezer loan will help to get more county residents vaccinated as quickly as possible. Agricultural workers especially have yet to receive the necessary volume of vaccination. With the strawberry harvest resuming in March, we’re doing all we can to help get vaccinations into farmworkers arms. That’s the key to getting our community healthy, and to reopening our economy.”

Ultra-low temperature freezers are in high demand and short supply across the U.S. The Aquarium was fortunate to have a back-up available, which they normally use in animal care operations. In December the Aquarium was able to loan the freezer to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas; which has since acquired its own freezer. 

“This ultra-low temperature research freezer enables Mee Memorial to store and dispense the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and will boost its ability to serve families and farm workers,” said Lopez. “Many essential workers in the Ag and Food Services sectors have a high occupational risk of COVID -19 infection and are eager to be vaccinated. This loan will allow Mee Memorial to offer both types of vaccine.”

About Mee Memorial Healthcare System

At Mee Memorial, our highest priority is to serve the healthcare needs of our community. This includes offering an extensive array of services with a commitment to the highest possible standards, the best available technology, and the care of skilled healthcare professionals. Today, our facility provides acute care, outpatient, and emergency services via 25 acute care beds and 48 dedicated to skilled nursing.  Learn more at