For today’s laboratories and hospitals, many different labors, devices, and services come together to make these places run, from running blood tests to administering vaccines to researching new ways to fight disease. In the middle of all this, one of the less glamorous, but certainly important functions in a lab or hospital, is storing vaccines and tissue or bacteria samples safety so they do not spoil or otherwise get disrupted. Storage sounds like a simple concept, but vaccines are often delicate, so how a lab crew stores them is something to take seriously and invest in to keep their fragile vaccines in good shape until needed later. A laboratory refrigerator, or a vaccine freezer, or any other medical refrigerator is key to good storage and vaccine or sample preservation.
Vaccines and their History
A modern laboratory refrigerator can be used to store today’s vaccines and tissue or bacterial samples, but the medical technology behind these innovations goes back centuries. Nearly 300 years ago, in 1796, Edward Jenner developed a new inoculation against smallpox that he called “arm to arm”. This vaccine, a major step forward for its time, involved taking material from the skin blister of someone infected with the cowpox virus and injecting it into the skin of another person. Later, in the late 1940s, large-scale vaccine production became a reality for the first time, and as of that decade, common viruses targeted by vaccines included whooping cough, tetanus, smallpox, and diphtheria. Vaccines today cover an even broader range of diseases and viruses, and as one example, between 2000 and 2014, the number of measles-related deaths dropped from 546,800 to 114,900, which represents a 79% decrease. Storing these very useful vaccines involves good storage units like laboratory refrigerator units and the like, and there are plenty of workers to tend to them. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that in 2016, 335,700 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians were working in the nation. How can vaccines and more be store safely in a medical grade freezer?
A Laboratory Refrigerator and its Work
Storing vaccines and bacterial samples is often a matter of temperature regulation, since such things can spoil if the temperature goes too far outside acceptable range. As a guideline, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that vaccines must be stored in temperatures between -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, which calculates to -50 to -15 degrees Celsius. And buying a laboratory refrigerator can be a bigger undertaking than some may realize, since not just any cooling unit will do; a lab freezer must be up to some specific standards. After all, regular refrigeration units are prone to wild variances in temperature inside due to lack of need for careful regulation in these units, and the fact that opening the door over and over seriously disrupts the temperature inside. These units are best used for storing food where temperature variance is not as big an issue.
Instead, a laboratory refrigerator is a more technically designed unit that is meant to keep careful track of its interior temperature, and staffs of labs or hospitals will want such unit for storing vaccines and bacterial samples. A number of vendors for these units may be available, and a buyer can compare different models’ size, specs, cost, and even customer reviews to find out which deal is best. The buyer must also bear in mind the typical load of vaccines or tissue samples that will be placed inside; a unit too small cannot hold them all, and a unit too large will be a waste of money. Finally, the simple logistics of where to put this unit should be considered. Bigger freezers will need enough floor space to be placed, and the freezer should be put somewhere convenient. Smaller, lighter units may be placed on shelves or counter tops, and here again, they should be put somewhere secure and easy to reach, and there should be no risk of the unit being knocked over or losing balance.