A number of discoveries and inventions have radically moved the field of medicine forward in the past 400 years, such as the invention of microscopes in the 1600s (which helped scientists discover cells). Meanwhile, germ theory and vaccines have done a lot of work to help prevent the spread of contagious diseases, and sterilization can help keep surgical tools clear of pathogens on their surfaces. All of this leads to a much higher standard of public health, and hospitals and research labs everywhere have medical freezers on hand to store vaccines and tissue samples. After all, vaccines are sensitive to temperature, so a benchtop freezer, vaccine refrigerators, medical freezers, and pharmaceutical freezers are a necessary part of any hospital. Staff may find these medical freezers or fridge units with online catalogs to find models to purchase from medical supply wholesalers. What is the history of vaccines, and what factors should weigh into the purchase of a freezer or fridge unit?
Vaccines Then and Now
The idea of vaccines is older than some people may realize, and in fact they were first pioneered in the late 1700s. In the year 1796, a certain Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method, designed to help patients fight off smallpox. He did this by extracting a tissue sample from a cowpox patient’s skin blister, then transferring it to a second patient’s skin. This method could train the second patient’s immune system to recognize and fight off cowpox and smallpox, and this concept proved a success. Over the following decades, vaccine research went forward, and by the 1940s, vaccines had entered mass production for the first time. Many of these vaccines fought common diseases of the time, such as Diphtheria, smallpox, whooping cough, and tetanus. Within the next few decades, vaccines were also fighting against Polio and measles. Today, Polio is very rare, if it ever appears at all.
Who needs vaccines? Babies and children get routine shots to bolster their developing immune systems, and responsible parents will bring their children to a doctor’s office for safe and routine vaccinations like these. The elderly may also get vaccines to update their immune systems, and this can help prevent the spread of disease in crowded nursing homes.
Statistics and studies show just how effective vaccines today can be. Estimates say that every year, vaccines prevent some 2.5 million deaths around the globe, and many of these vaccines are fighting against measles in particular. The WHO and the Measles and Rubella Initiative have said that ever since the year 2000, the measles vaccine has prevented nearly 17.1 million deaths. What is more, the total deaths due to measles added up to 548,000 in 2000, but that figure had dropped to 114,900 by the year 2014, a 79% decrease in fatalities. But all the same, these vaccines need proper storage solutions, and that means having medical freezers and fridges on hand.
Proper Storage of Vaccines
Any hospital or research lab will need medical freezers and pharmaceutical fridges to store vaccines and tissue samples, and it is important that these are medical grade units. Commercial freezers and fridges are designed only for regular good and drinks in mind, and their internal temperature varies too much as their doors are opened and closed. But a medical grade cooler unit can maintain its internal temperature more carefully. The CDC’s guidelines call for a temperature range of -58 degrees to 5 degrees Fahrenheit for frozen vaccines, and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for other vaccine types.
As mentioned earlier, the staff at a hospital or a research lab may look online to find these medical freezers or fridge units. Medical supply wholesalers will have a variety of cooler units on hand, and they will all be in new condition and all will be medical grade. The secondary market may have some gently used models available, too.
The unit’s size is also important. A large and busy hospital’s staff will clear up floor space for a large freezer unit to hold many vaccines at once. A small, cramped research lab’s staff will want to find small models that hold a modest number of vaccines, such as a benchtop model. Some coolers are under-the-counter models to save even more room in the lab.