As vaccines make their way into the arms of British Columbians, distribution is getting a helping hand with innovations from Camosun College.

The College’s “Camosun Innovates” school of applied learning and technology has partnered with the province to prototype and manufacture specialized trays to secure the COVID-19 vaccine vials for transport.

The team at Camosun Innovates also designed and manufactured a unique grip for lifting and moving vials, called the Camosin VI-grip.

“The ability to quickly and safely transfer vials of the COVID-19 vaccine is helping to get it to where it is needed most,” says Gerry Delorme, Director with Health Emergency Management BC.

“Camosun Innovates’ ability to quickly imagine and produce manufacturing solutions each time we encounter a challenge is helping to ensure vaccines reach British Columbians.”

The technical demands for the transport trays are high. They need to be able to withstand extremely low temperatures, as low as -70C.

They also need to be easily loaded and moved at distribution centres, so the vaccines do not have time to thaw.

Perhaps most importantly, they also need to be durable, as these specific vaccines are mainly destined for remote and rural communities.

“Camosun has been quick to get behind opportunities to support its students, employees and community in many ways throughout the pandemic,” says Sherri Bell, Camosun President.

“The applied research process used to create the trays and Camosun VI-grip are just the latest example of how community colleges can hit the ground running with innovative solutions to complex, real-world problems.”

The transportation trays can hold up to 100 individual vaccine vials, while the VI-grip is used to handle five vials at a time.

Production of the VI-grip is done using a 3D printer, with a UV-repsonsive resin material.

The College’s practical technology arm has also produced projects like equipment for para-athletes, sport simulators, self-righting watercraft and medical grade face shields.

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