In preparation for the flu season and the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines needing special refrigeration, three mobile vaccination caravans were commissioned by Magen David Adom, Israel’s national organization responsible for emergency pre-hospital medical care and blood services.

Stationed at the National Operations Center in Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv, the six-meter (19.6-foot) caravans can offer flu vaccinations and coronavirus testing around the country until the COVID-19 vaccines are approved and shipped to Israel.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, MDA teams have sampled about 2,800,000 people.

The Israeli government has set up a national vaccine storage-and-distribution center in the Negev, anticipating 6 million doses from Moderna and 4 million from Pfizer—enough to inoculate 5 million Israelis—expected in early 2021, pending U.S. regulatory approval.

Israel also may purchase COVID-19 vaccines from Arcturus Therapeutics and/or AstraZeneca if clinical trials are successful. The governmental Israel Institute for Biological Research is developing a vaccine called BriLife, now in trials at two hospitals.

Manufactured by the Israeli company Caravila, the two-ton vehicles include a separate entrance and exit, a registration station, two sampling/vaccination stations and medical equipment. They have solar panels to maintain energy off the grid.

Freezers that can hold thousands of doses are in each vehicle, one operating at -20°C (-4°F) to preserve the Moderna vaccines, and the other at -70°C (-94°F) for the Pfizer vaccines.

MDA Deputy Director-General for Operations Gil Moshkowitz thanked Yossi Hillel from Caravila, as well as Einat Segal, director of the automotive department at the Ministry of Transportation, and her engineering team, for expediting the project.

MDA International Spokesman Zaki Heller tells ISRAEL21c he knows of no other country that has such vehicles.

During the first wave of the pandemic, MDA also commissioned an ambulance bus with space for up to 13 patients—another first of its kind. It was built by the Israel Defense Forces’ Land Technology Brigade in cooperation with the Dan Bus Company, funded by MDA, Osem and Nestle. In addition, more than 100 MDA ambulances were retrofitted to isolate the driver from exposure to coronavirus patients during transport.

This article was first published by Israel21c.

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