The field of medicine has enjoyed a number of great strides in the last 500 years or so, from germ theory to the development of microscopes to scalpel sterilization all the way to vaccines. Today, vaccines are essential for controlling the spread of disease and saving lives, and many studies can confirm this. Many viruses are rare or entirely wiped out due to modern vaccination efforts, and this has also greatly curbed the rate of child deaths in centuries past. Still, these vaccines are fragile, and they will need proper storage solutions, such as pharmaceutical grade refrigerators and vaccine refrigerator freezers. These pharmaceutical grade refrigerators and medical grade freezers can be found with catalogs that medical suppliers may offer, and it is often the staff of research labs or hospitals who are looking for a pharmaceutical grade refrigerator to buy. What is there to know about vaccines and their storage methods?
Vaccines Then and Now
The very concept of vaccines is older than some people may realize, and vaccines as we know them have been used since the late 1700s. In the year 1796, the British scientist Edward Jenner pioneered what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method against smallpox, and he did this by extracting a tissue sample from a cowpox patient’s skin blister and transferring it to a second patient. In this way, the second patient’s immune system is trained to recognize and fight off smallpox and cowpox thanks to this controlled exposure. This method proved a success, and vaccines have been in use ever since. By the 1940s, vaccines had entered mass production for the first time, and they often fought off common illnesses of the day such as smallpox, Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. And now, in the 21st century, vaccines can fight off even more diseases, such as measles and Polio.
Vaccinations are important for everyone, young and old. When a baby is born, its parents may receive a chart and schedule for vaccinations, and that child may visit the doctor several times for routine shots. This helps bolster the child’s developing immune system and protects the child, contrasting with how often youngsters died of disease in centuries past. Meanwhile, older adults may also get vaccinations, such as renewing their shots during flu season. Some hospitals and urgent care centers may in fact host flu shot drives to keep everyone in the community up to date. Senior citizens, meanwhile, have age-worn immune systems that can be reinforced with vaccines, and this can help prevent the spread of disease in crowded retirement homes.
Proper Storage of Vaccines
There is no doubt that vaccines are powerful and effective. In fact, the annual death count from measles dropped 79% from 2000 to 2014 thanks to the measles vaccine, just to name one example. Still, these vaccines are fragile, and they are sensitive to temperature. Some even need to be frozen while they are in storage. So, the staff at a hospital or research lab will have one or more pharmaceutical grade refrigerators and lab freezers on hand to store those delicate vaccines correctly. Ordinary freezers and fridges are not suitable, since these commercial units are designed for food storage and may experience major temperature changes when their doors are opened. This could compromise vaccines stored inside, but dedicated pharmaceutical grade refrigerators will not have this problem.
The CDC has released guidelines for vaccine storage, and frozen vaccines should be stored at a temperature of -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or -50 to -15 degrees Celsius. Other vaccines can be stored at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 5 degrees Celsius.
Buyers can look for pharmaceutical grade refrigerators and freezers in online catalogs that wholesale medical suppliers offer, and find a model that suits their needs. The staff at a medical facility can also explore the secondary market for gently used models, though they are urged to look over a used unit before buying it. The largest medical freezers may take up a lot of room, but they may fit in a large hospital and store hundreds of vaccines at once. Small research labs, meanwhile, can purchase a petite benchtop freezer to save room, or even an undercounter medical refrigerator unit (imagine a dishwasher that stores vaccines).