Modern medicine is based on many different moving parts, from surgical blades to needles to research done at labs, and one of the more mundane but no less important parts of modern medicine is having a temperature-controlled environment in which lab samples and vaccines may be stored, since such things are usually temperature-sensitive and may be destroyed or ruined if exposed to certain temperatures. For this reason, any research lab or hospital will invest in a vaccine refrigerator or a vaccine freezer for its vaccines, and lab samples such as bacteria cultures or tissue samples may be stored in a pharmaceutical refrigerator or a laboratory freezer for safekeeping. This sounds simple enough, but care should be taken that the right model is bought and that the contents stored inside will be safe. A vaccine refrigerator will match the specifications that the lab sets, and it will be budget friendly and will fit into whatever space is set aside for it in a lab or hospital. What is the history of vaccines, and why is it so important to invest in a good vaccine refrigerator?
Vaccines Past and Present
Vaccines date back over 200 years, and are more powerful and varied now than ever. This medical technology emerged in the year 1796, when Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method to prevent new cases of smallpox. This was accomplished by means of taking material from the skin blister of someone infected with cowpox, then injecting that material into the skin of the recipient. Vaccines have steadily improved ever since then, and as of the 1940s, large-scale vaccine production began in earnest, and in that decade, smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) were the most common vaccine targets, with even more viruses being treated with an array of today’s vaccines. This saves many lives per year, and various agencies keep track of vaccine rates and how often preventable diseases appear (or don’t). It has generally been determined that 2.5 million unnecessary deaths are prevented every year due to vaccinations, and measles-related death rates have down down, from 546,800 to 114,900 between the years 2000 and 2014, a 79% decrease. How can modern labs and hospitals safely store their lab samples and vaccines so they can be used whenever needed?
Finding a Vaccine Refrigerator
Vaccines need more than just a box into which they can be stored and taken back out as needed. The temperature of any storage unit should be carefully controlled, and some freezers or vaccine refrigerator units will be up to the job while others will not. For example, some commercially available fridges or freezers are effective for storing food, but the temperature inside changes too much whenever the doors are opened, making them unsuitable for vaccine storage, or for placing lab samples in. Instead, a vaccine refrigerator should match regulations and guidelines that have been released so that the correct temperature is stable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that frozen vaccines must be stored in temperatures ranging from -58 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 to -15 degrees Celsius), while vaccines in refrigerator units should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 5 degrees Celsius.
What criteria should a lab or hospital have when the staff look for vaccine storage refrigerators or a scientific freezer? A major factor is the temperature control. The unit to be purchased should be capable of the needed temperature range, and the unit should be able to resist temperature changes whenever the unit is opened. Specialized freezers and fridges should be rated for this, and a buyer can look out for that. Also, the size of the unit is a factor, and will be based on the number of vaccines or lab samples to be stored at one time. A too-large unit is a waste of space, and a unit too small cannot contain everything. Size and weight will also be an issue for actually placing the freezer unit in the lab or hospital; floor space should be cleared up for a larger unit, while smaller units can be placed on shelves or racks, since they are lighter.