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New freezers at FSU, Pembroke will ease vaccinations in Cumberland, Robeson

Posted January 22, 2021 6:07 p.m. EST

— Fayetteville State University is no stranger to the fight against COVID-19. Earlier this year, the university hosted test sites for thousands of people in surrounding communities.

Now, FSU is preparing to become a vaccination site, too, when more vaccine is available, and so is UNC Pembroke in Robeson County.

The schools are two of the fifteen research institutions in the UNC system that received-super cold freezers to safely store COVID-19 vaccines. The freezers were provided by the NC Policy Collaboratory at UNC Chapel Hill.

FSU's Interim Chancellor Dr. Peggy Valentine says the university has one freezer already on campus, with four more are on the way.

"And I think two of them are portable," Valentine added. "This will help us a great deal with whatever vaccines that we receive, that we will be able to house them and be able to use them for our local community."

UNC Pembroke has also received one of the super-cold freezers so far, with four more expected to arrive in coming weeks.

So far, the Robeson County Health Department has given more than 3,100 COVID-19 vaccines. UNCP's new portable freezer will make it possible to hold vaccination clinics in more rural parts of the county.

"It can plug into a cigarette lighter in a car," explained Travis Bryant with UNCP Public Safety, and can hold 1400 vials of vaccine.

Both FSU and UNCP are historically minority-serving institutions. Their communities are at higher risk from the virus, yet are more likely to be resistant to getting the vaccine.

Leaders at both schools are hoping their schools' involvement in vaccinations will help people in those communities feel more confident about getting the shot.

"Being an HBCU, we're taking the vaccine ourselves," said Valentine, "and we support the community coming on campus and receiving this level of protection as well."

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