A number of advances and breakthroughs have completely transformed the field of medicine in the last 500 years or so, from microscopes to germ theory to vaccines, and more. Vaccines, in particular, are what allow doctors to protect their patients from deadly diseases, and many studies confirm that millions of lives are saved every year through routine and safe vaccination efforts. Some diseases have even been declared extinct in many parts of the world. North America and Europe, for example, are Polio-free. Still, these powerful vaccines are delicate and sensitive to temperature, so medical refrigerators and freezers are used to store them. Such vaccine refrigerator freezers and pharmacy freezers can be found at research labs and hospitals to store vaccines and tissue samples, and they are a cut above ordinary commercial freezers. What is there to know about medical refrigerators and freezers today, and storing vaccines inside them?
Vaccines Then and Now
The concept of vaccines dates back over 200 years, back to the late 1700s when they were first pioneered. In the year 1796, the British scientist Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method against smallpox. He did this by transferring at issue sample from the skin blister of a cowpox patient to a second patient, and with this controlled exposure, a doctor can train the second patient’s immune system to fight off cowpox and smallpox. This method proved a success, and vaccines have been used ever since. By the 1940s, vaccines began mass production for the first time, and many vaccines of that decade were geared to fight illnesses such as whooping cough, smallpox, tetanus, and Diphtheria, among others. And now, in the 21st century, vaccines can protect patients from an even wider variety of illnesses, such as measles and Polio.
Patients young and old alike have need for routine shots at the doctor’s office, starting from infancy. When a baby is born, in fact, the parents may be given a schedule for bringing their child to the doctor’s every few months for safe and routine shots. A child’s immune system is still growing, and it may need reinforcement from vaccines and shots. In centuries past, many babies and children died from disease, but no longer. Meanwhile, older adults may get shots to protect them from influenza and the like, and every year, hospitals and urgent care centers may host flu shot drives to keep everyone in the community safe. Senior citizens have age-worn immune systems, and this can make them vulnerable to disease and allow infections to spread around crowded retirement homes unless they receive vaccines. But what about medical refrigerators and freezers to store all these powerful vaccines?
Proper Storage for Vaccines
Vaccines are indeed powerful, such as the measles vaccine, which reduced the measles death rate 79% from 2000 to 2014 (to serve as one example). But those vaccines are delicate, and the staff at a research lab or hospital need medical refrigerators and freezers to store them. This is opposed to ordinary and commercial freezers and coolers, which are only designed for food and will have very wide temperature changes when their doors are opened. This could compromise any vaccines stored inside, but medical refrigerators and freezers are rated to carefully control their internal temperatures. CDC guidelines say that frozen vaccines should be stored at a temperature of -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 to -15 Celsius), and ordinary vaccines should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 5 degrees Celsius.
These medical refrigerators and freezers also vary in size and shape, and some of the largest may store dozens or even hundreds of vaccines at once. The staff at a large and busy hospital may buy these wholesale, for example, and use them for a flu shot drive. By contrast, the staff at a small research lab might look for small benchtop freezer models or even undercounter medical refrigerators that save space. Buyers can find all these with online catalogs that medical suppliers offer, or even find gently used models on the secondary market. Used medical freezers should be looked over in person before purchase, though, to check that they are in good shape and can operate as needed.