The field of medicine has enjoyed a number of innovations, inventions, and discoveries within the last 400 years or so, from microscopes (once called flea glasses) to germ theory to sterilization techniques (useful for removing contagions from the surfaces of medical equipment). Let’s not forget vaccines, either, which are vital for protecting people of all ages from deadly viruses. Vaccines are useful for the young and old alike, and they have been protecting lives for over 200 years now. But they are also delicate, and scientific freezers, vaccine refrigerators, and other pharmaceutical freezers are needed to properly store them until use. Now, what is there to know about vaccines and the scientific freezers that store them?
About Vaccines Past and Present
Vaccines as we know them were first pioneered in late 18th century England, when the British scientist Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method against smallpox. To do this, he would extract the tissue sample of a cowpox patient’s skin blister, then transfer it to the skin of a second patient, and thus train that patient’s immune system to recognize and fight off such viruses. Needless to say, this method proved a success, and vaccines continued to be developed and used ever since then. By the 1940s, vaccines were being mass produced for the first time, and many of them were geared to fight off viruses such as whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, and smallpox. By now, in the 21st century, vaccines can also deal with Polio and measles, among other diseases.
Who needs these vaccines? Everyone does. Babies and children should get safe, routine shots to protect them from many diseases and bolster their young immune systems, and responsible parents will take their children to the doctor’s office to get these safe shots done. In centuries past, many babies and children died of disease, but vaccines have put a stop to that. Meanwhile, older patients may visit urgent care centers and hospitals to get flu shots during influenza season, and these healthcare providers often host flu drives during this time of year. The elderly can get shots to reinforce and update their age-worn immune system, which can prevent the spread of contagious illnesses in crowded retirement homes.
Many statistics show just how powerful vaccines are. It is estimated that 2.5 million lives are saved every year thanks to vaccines, preventing that many unnecessary deaths. The measles vaccine in particular is doing a lot of work, too; the WHO and the Measles and Rubella Initiative say that the measles vaccine has saved 17.1 million lives since the yer 2000. Also, from 2000 to 2014, the annual measles death toll dropped from 546,800 down to 114,900, which is an impressive 79% drop. Figures like these are possible when vaccines are properly stored before use, such as in scientific freezers and medical grade refrigerators.
Vaccine Storage Done Right
As mentioned earlier, vaccines are delicate and sensitive to temperature, and commercial freezers and fridges are not sufficient for their needs. Why not? These commercial units are designed for regular food and drinks, not medical items, and their internal temperatures change too much when their doors are opened. This would compromise any vaccines or tissue samples stored inside. But scientific freezers and medical fridges are indeed designed to maintain a steady internal temperature even when their doors are opened, and they feature racks and shelves to store those vaccines properly. As for internal temperatures, CDC guidelines say that a vaccine fridge should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 5 degrees Celsius. Frozen vaccines require a temperature range of -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or -50 to -15 degrees Celsius.
Usually, it is the staff of hospitals, research labs, and urgent care centers who are looking for such scientific freezers, and they can find wholesale units for purchase via online catalogs. Gently used units may be bought on the secondary market for a lower price, though buyers are urged to look them over in person before making a purchase. Also, the size is a major factor; a large hospital will need a sizeable pharmaceutical fridge for its needs, while the staff at a small research lab is better off buying a benchtop or countertop freezer model instead, or an under-the-counter freezer.