Indiana plant ramps up work on coolers for COVID-19 vaccines

A southern Indiana plant is ramping up production of special coolers needed to store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the nation to combat the pandemic.

Arizona-based Foam Fabricators has increased staffing by 20% at its New Albany plant to keep up with demand for the coolers that will be used for the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

That effort has involved both hiring more people and adding more hours per month, said Michael Hays, the company’s vice president.

Hays told the Jefferson City News Tribune that Foam Fabricators has a comprehensive plan to meet the manufacturing demand for molded expanded polystyrene containers — insulated containers with high-quality temperature control needed for storage and distribution of the vaccines.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine on Friday. Another vaccine by Moderna is set to be reviewed by an expert panel and could be allowed for public use soon.

Foam Fabricators began working on its vaccine cooler plan in July for its New Albany plant and 11 other advanced manufacturing facilities. Hays said those plants began production in mid-October of the coolers, which are shipped to a distribution center to be used for the vaccines.

Hays said Foam Fabricators is the only company in the nation making the type of coolers that will be used for the COVID-19 vaccines.

“These coolers are existing products that are being repurposed for the COVID vaccine,” he said. “They provide both cushioning and thermal protection for the vaccines.”

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