Ford Motor said it had ordered a dozen ultra cold freezers that can safely store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reported.

The move was aimed at ensuring the automaker's workers had access to vaccines when they were rolled out nationally.

The news agency noted Ford's purchase mirrored efforts by US states and cities to buy equipment to store millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine at temperatures of minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit), significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8 C (36-46 F).

Health care providers and states are preparing for a new type of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna which require lower temperatures for storage, the news agency said.

"We're doing this so that we can make the vaccine available to our employees on a voluntary basis," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told Reuters.

Details of how Ford would use the freezers, which are expected to be delivered by the end of 2020, were still being worked out, she added. Ford screens its workers in plants and, if COVID-19 testing is required, has partnerships with local healthcare providers.

Reuters noted assembly workers are considered essential in most states, but are not at the top of the list for vaccines, which are expected to be distributed first to healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

General Motors told Reuters it had not yet purchased freezers.

"We are taking steps to be prepared to make vaccines available to our employees when the time is right and vaccines are available to us," GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles told the news agency it was studying the most effective approach to distributing vaccines to employees when they become available.

Last May, Ford began shipping ventilators, developed with 3M, made by volunteers in its Vreeland factory.