Vaccine Storage Done Right

A number of inventions and discoveries have rapidly advanced the field of medicine in the last 400 years, from microscopes to germ theory to sterilization techniques (to kill contagions found on the surface of medical devices). Don’t forget vaccines, either, which are essential for fighting off deadly viruses of all kinds. Vaccines have saved many lives in the past and present, but they do need proper storage in vaccine refrigerators and medical grade freezers before use. Vaccines are delicate, so the staff of any hospital, urgent care center, or research lab will buy wholesale vaccine refrigerators and pharmaceutical freezers from reliable suppliers. What else is there to know about vaccines and their storage?

Vaccines Then and Now

For well over 200 years, vaccines have been saving lives, and vaccines as we know them date back to the year 1796, in England. The British scientist Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method, to protect patients from smallpox. He did this by extracting a tissue sample from the skin blister of a cowpox patient, and transferring it to a second patient’s skin. In this way, he could train the second patient’s immune system to recognize and fight off smallpox and similar diseases, and this theory proved a success. In the years that followed, more vaccines were developed and used, and by the 1940s, vaccines were being mass produced for the first time. Many of them were geared toward fighting off diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus (common diseases of the time), and now, vaccines can also fight off measles and Polio, among other infections.

Everyone needs regular shots and vaccines to stay safe, and babies and children in particular need them to bolster their young immune systems and protect them from disease. In centuries past, many children and babies died of illness, but vaccines have put a stop to that today. Responsible parents can bring their children to the doctor’s office several times in that child’s first few years of life, and the doctor will give that young patient safe and routine shots. Older adults can visit an urgent care center or hospital for flu shots during a flu drive, and the elderly can get shots to bolster their age-worn immune systems and thus prevent the spread of infections in crowded retirement homes.

Many statistics make it clear how effective vaccines are. Every year, some 2.5 million unnecessary deaths are prevented due to the many vaccines used today, and the measles vaccine in particular is saving a lot of lives. The WHO and the Measles and Rubella Initiative have estimated that around 17.1 million lives have been saved courtesy of the measles vaccine since the year 2000, and the yearly measles death toll has dropped quite a bit. It was 546,800 in the year 2000, and decreased to 114,900 in 2014, a 79% drop overall. But these kinds of figures are only possible when vaccines are properly stored in vaccine refrigerators and pharmacy freezers before use. How does this work?

Medical Freezers and Vaccines

Vaccines are sensitive to temperature, and thus they must be stored in vaccine refrigerators and freezers before use, but only medical grade equipment will do. Commercial freezers and fridges are designed to hold regular food and drinks, and the interior temperature changes drastically when the doors are opened. This would ruin any vaccines stored inside, but vaccine refrigerators and fridges are designed to keep their temperatures more steady. They also feature racks and trays that can properly store all off those vaccines, not to mention tissue samples and other medical items. As for internal temperature, the CDC’s guidelines say that a vaccine refrigerator should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), and frozen vaccines need a temperature ranging from -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or -50 to -15 degrees Celsius.

Such medical freezers and fridges can be found via the online catalogs that medical suppliers provide, and gently used ones can be found on the secondary market for a discount price. Some are larger than others; a huge hospital may need a sizeable fridge for vaccines, while a small research lab’s staff would rather buy a petite benchtop freezer or an under-the-counter model to save room.

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