Buying the Right Medical Freezer

The world of medicine today requires many advanced tools and equipment to function, everything from surgical scalpels to cameras in bodily probes to needles and microscopes. One of the more mundane, but no less critical pieces of equipment for any lab or hospital, is a pharmaceutical refrigerator. Keeping items such as samples or vaccines at a low and controlled temperature is vital, and not having a proper pharmaceutical refrigerator or scientific freezer or lab freezer can render any research lab or hospital’s work impossible, and destroy samples or vaccines that a lot of time and money were invested in. How can a lab or hospital find the right pharmaceutical refrigerator or medical fridge freezer for its delicate items? And how common are these vaccines and the samples that help in their creation?

The World of Vaccines

Many diseases and viruses have had their death counts drastically reduced in recent decades thanks to the work of vaccines. Measles, for example, can be resisted with vaccines. From 2000 to 2014, deaths from this disease dropped from 546,800 to 114,900. which represents a 79% decrease. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Measles and Rubella Initiative found that some 17.1 million lives have been saved due to vaccines since the year 2000. More broadly, it has been determined that vaccines save some 2.5 unnecessary deaths every single year. In fact, vaccines go back to the 18th century: Edward Jenner, in the year 1796, launched a revolutionary vaccines called the “arm-to-arm” inoculation to resist smallpox, where the blister of someone carrying cowpox has its material injected into another person. This helps train the vaccinated person’s immune system against the disease without facing the full onslaught of it.

Pharmaceutical Refrigerators and More

The American CDC has suggested that the optimal temperature range for storing frozen vaccines is -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or -50 to -15 degrees Celsius. Similarly, the CDC has stated that for storing refrigerated vaccines, 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 5 degrees Celsius, is proper. However, not just any cooling unit is optimal for storing delicate vaccines and samples. The use of the wrong one can lead to disaster.

According to Accucold, laboratory refrigeration needs, including vaccine storage, cannot be met with a regular “dorm style” refrigerator unit, or in fact any unit that combines a freezer with a refrigeration section. This is simply because the temperatures inside these units are too variable. Even if the doors are not opened, the inside temperature may vary sometimes, and in a combined freezer/refrigerator unit, the CDC has determined that the temperature inside may vary as much as 5 degrees Celsius, which could ruin delicate vaccines or samples inside, especially if the doors to either compartment are often opened and closed.

This problem persists in any refrigeration unit used to house both food items and vaccines in a facility. In this case, the door or doors of the unit will be often opened and closed, which again destabilizes the temperatures the sensitive vaccines need. Instead, a proper pharmaceutical refrigerator will be a fairly slim unit that is just the right size for the intended load of vaccines or samples inside. If the unit is too empty, temperature fluctuation is likely, and if it is too full, air cannot circulate correctly, which also leads to imbalances. Filling the fridge anywhere between 30% and 80% is optimal for balance.

Before a lab or hospital purchases clinic grade freezers, the staff should know the nature and quantity of items that they intend to store, as well as the specific temperature needs of each. This guides the decision on what types, and how many, of each freezer or refrigerator to purchase. Some freezers have different internal temperature ranges than others, ranging from very cold to mildly cold, so buyers should be aware of unit specifications before making a purchase. A vaccine refrigerator or vaccine freezer will have to suit its contents exactly right, and bacteria samples or blood plasma will also have their own requirements.

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