Health care providers and states are bracing for new types of vaccines that have been developed by Pfizer and Moderna Inc that require lower temperatures for storage.
“We are doing this so that we can make the vaccine available to our employees on a voluntary basis,” said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker.
Details on how Ford will use the freezers, which are expected to ship by the end of the year, are still being worked out, she said.
Assembly workers are considered essential in most states in the United States, but are not at the top of the list for vaccines, which should be distributed to healthcare workers and nursing home residents first.
Automakers have been largely successful in preventing the spread of the coronavirus among hourly workers at their assembly plants after a two-month shutdown earlier this year, but COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the United States , especially in the Midwest.
Felker did not know which company supplied Ford with the freezers. Major manufacturers include Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, PHC Corp of North America, Stirling Ultracold, Helmer Scientific, and Luxembourg-based B Medical Systems.
Some manufacturers of specialty freezers have warned of waiting months for units.
Ford, who decided to buy the freezers on his own and does not work with other companies or states, did not disclose how much he spent, but the specialty freezers required by Pfizer’s vaccine can cost between 5,000. and $ 15,000 each, according to industry officials.
General Motors Co said it has not purchased any freezers yet. “We are taking steps to be ready to make the vaccines available to our employees when the time comes, and the vaccines are available to us,” said GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey.
Officials from Toyota Motor Corp, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the United Auto Workers union, which represents most of the hourly American workers at auto manufacturing plants based in Detroit, Mich., Did not comment immediately. Michigan state health officials could not be reached immediately for comment.