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Proper Storage Methods for Frozen Vaccines

The last few centuries have seen major advances in the field of medicine, from microscopes to germ theory to vaccinations to fight disease. Vaccines in particular are responsible for preventing many deaths from diseases, and the CDC and other organizations carefully track the use of vaccines around the world today. While these vaccines are quite powerful, they are also fragile medical items, and need proper storage solutions. So, this is why hospital staff and research lab staff will acquire a freezer for pharmaceuticals and similar goods, such as vaccine refrigerator freezers and medical grade refrigerators. Having a freezer for pharmaceuticals is standard for such medical sites, and a vaccine freezer will carefully store frozen vaccines at the correct temperature before use. How might this work? And how effective do vaccines prove to be?

Vaccines Then and Now

The concept of vaccines dates back over two centuries, to the year 1796. In that year, the British scientist Edward Jenner pioneered what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method against smallpox. He did this by extracting a tissue sample from the skin blister of a cowpox patient and transferring it to a second patient. In this way, the second patient’s immune system could be trained to recognize and fight off viruses such as smallpox and cowpox as a result of this controlled exposure. This method proved a success, and ever since then, many different vaccines have been developed and used. By the 1940s, vaccines entered mass production for the first time, and many of them were geared to fight common viruses of the day, such as smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Now, in the 21st century, vaccines can also deal with diseases such as polio and measles. Studies show, for example, that from the year 2000 to 2014, the number of measles-related deaths had dropped an impressive 79% due to vaccination efforts.

Vaccines are essential for children and adults alike. Responsible parents bring in their young children to the doctor for routine and safe shots against a variety of viruses, and this helps bolster each child’s developing immune system to fight disease. In centuries past, many children and babies died from disease, but modern vaccines have long since put a stop to that. Adults can also get shots to update their immune systems, and the elderly often need vaccines to revitalize and update their age-worn immune systems. This is helpful to prevent the spread of disease in a crowded nursing home, for example. It may also be common for children and adults alike to get flu shots when flu season approached every year.

Storing Those Vaccines

Storing temperature-sensitive medical items is entirely different from storing ordinary food and beverages, and this is where a freezer for pharmaceuticals may come in. Unlike a commercial freezer, a freezer for pharmaceuticals and vaccines is built to carefully regulate its internal temperature for the sake of vaccines stored inside, even if the door is opened. By contrast, regular fridges and freezers may experience wide fluctuations in internal temperature when their doors are opened, and that is unacceptable for vaccine storage purposes. However, a freezer for pharmaceuticals may have a temperature ranging from -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit for storing frozen vaccines, following the CDC’s guidelines for such things. That is -50 to -15 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, if a vaccine does not need to be frozen, it may be stored in a vaccine fridge at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 5 degrees Celsius.

The staff at a research lab or hospital can find these specialized freezers and coolers when they look online to find catalogs that medical suppliers have, or they can browse the secondary market for gently used models. Buyers are urged to look over a used unit before purchasing it. Size is also a factor, as some vaccine fridges are larger than others and have varying storage room inside. A hospital may have the floor space for a large vaccine freezer or fridge, and store many vaccines at once. A small research lab or clinic may have limited room, so the staff may order a benchtop freezer, or even an “under the counter” fridge or freezer to save room.

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