With coronavirus vaccines potentially becoming available before the end of the year, a Waltham-based company is set to play a pivotal role in how health care facilities store them.

Dr. Alex Esmon is general manager of cold storage at Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers. He says the company anticipated higher demand for their freezers earlier this year when vaccines like the one being developed by Pfizer started showing promise.

“The fact is, we’ve been looking at this for months. As soon as we knew mRNA vaccines were going to be in play, we started projecting and planning from a supply chain perspective,” Esmon said.

Esmon said the company's freezers can store the Pfizer vaccine at its required temperature: -94 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We call these fit for purpose units," he said. "They are built with scientific research, medical research in mind. We've been building these since the 1950s.”

The company prepared its manufacturing facilities in Ohio and North Carolina to meet the new demand, Esmon said, which is now two to three times greater than usual.

Meanwhile, Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is making plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north region once a vaccine arrives. Christian Lanphere, emergency management director for CHA, said its two acute care hospitals are coordinating with the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the state Department of Public Health on how to disseminate the vaccine to patients.

We're going to centralize the vaccine at one campus, regardless if its Pfizer or Moderna," he said.

Lanphere said a coordinated effort to vaccinate CHA's health care workers is underway.

“We are now trying to focus our efforts on who within our system will become the first group to be offered the vaccine, but this will not be mandatory for our staff.”

Lanphere says the vaccine will not only go to nurses and doctors who deal directly with COVID-19 patients, but he says CHA will ensure that housekeeping staff, respiratory therapists, dieticians, and others are also in the first group.