Chill-Pak in Springfield, MO Helps Ship COVID-19 Vaccines

Chill-Pak was more than ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, thanks to the unique packaging products it produces.

By Jamie Thomas

Mar 2021

Manufacturing packaging at Chill-Pak facility
Photo by Brandon AlmsPackaging manufacturing company Chill-Pak already had a lot of what was needed to ship COVID-19 vaccines in place. Purchase Photo

When news broke that COVID-19 vaccines were ready for distribution, it was a big relief across the country. But for Stephen Foster and the team at Chill-Pak, it was an opportunity to show they can make a difference in a complicated process.

“Our packaging has always been there,” says Foster, president of Chill-Pak, of the sudden demand for pharmaceutical, cold-temperature shippers. “It took a pandemic to really put it on the forefront.”

Chill-Pak has always been involved in the business of shipping specialty pharmaceuticals, according to Foster. “We have a very strong customer base already that has nothing to do with the vaccine, [but] has those similar temperature and refrigeration requirements [...] so we could leverage what we already had.”

Being a manufacturer of shippers that can accommodate the spectrum of ultra-cold temperature requirements for medical products, Chill Pak was prepared to pick up vaccine distribution. “We started having some conversations with some of the distributors of vaccines,” Foster says. “As well the logistics companies, knowing what’s going to be coming down that pipe once the FDA starts giving emergency authorizations.”

Foster’s team also reached out to several state health departments to get ahead of potential roadblocks in distribution. “These vaccines are packed in bulk.” Foster explains. “Somewhere along the line, they have to be broken down—you can’t send 5,000 doses to a small farm community, that would be overkill.” Foster says this presents the risk of congestion in the supply line, and it’s problem that Chill-Pak is well equipped to handle.

Thanks to the company’s shippers, the vaccines are broken down into smaller shipments, while maintaining the specific low temperatures that are so vital to their efficacy. “We didn’t really have to do any research, we already had the solution,” Foster says.

Chill Pak is currently working with eight states to help in the delivery process of COVID-19 vaccines, although even with states that are ahead of the curve, it’s still a challenge. “It’s an evolving thing,” says Foster of the uncharted territory of dealing with a global pandemic. “It’s constantly changing. [States are] financially strapped, they don’t have the technical knowledge or the budget [...] We can kind of educate them and say ‘okay, this is how you get from point A to point B.’ We can walk them through the entire process.”