Ever since their invention in the late 1700s, vaccines have proven an effective and important line of defense against infectious diseases for human beings. Children in particular receive a number of vaccines to jump-start their immune systems, and as Americans age, they will sometimes receive updated vaccines well into their senior years. Even the elderly may receive vaccines to keep their immune systems strong. Vaccines, however, are somewhat fragile, so they will often be stored inside a benchtop freezer unit or a pharmacy freezer. A scientific refrigerator is a fine place to store some vaccines or lab samples that must be chilled for preservation, and a vaccine freezer such as a benchtop freezer is needed for even colder items. pharmaceutical grade refrigerators and benchtop freezer units can be found on the wholesale medical supplies market, and a small benchtop freezer works fine for a smaller lab with limited space. A larger vaccine freezer may be used at a large hospital. What is there to know about vaccines and their work?
Vaccines Then and Now
Vaccines as we know them were pioneered back in 1796, when a man named Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method against smallpox. He did this when he extracted a tissue sample from the skin blister of someone infected with cowpox, then transferred it to another patient’s arm. That patient’s immune system was then “trained” for fight off such viruses with this small sample, and the patient’s immune system became stronger. This proved a success, but vaccines remained somewhat limited until the 1940s, when large scale production of vaccines was started. At the time, common viruses such as smallpox, Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping couch were targeted by these vaccines. By now, an even wider selection of viruses and diseases are blocked with vaccines, including polio and measles. Once-common diseases are now relatively rare.
Many studies and statistics show just how effective vaccines are at preventing disease, and disease-related deaths. Measles, for example, has been a case of vaccines’ success. In particular, the World Health Organizations, as well as the Measles and Rubella Initiative, have determined that some 17.1 million lives have been saved due to the measles vaccine since the year 2000. In 2000, a total of 546,800 measles-related deaths took place, but by the year 2014, this figure had dropped to 114,900. That is a 79% decrease, a significant amount. Overall, vaccines prevent some 2.5 million unnecessary deaths around the world every year, which is more than the population of some entire cities. Children receive vaccines to reinforce their developing immune systems, and the elderly may receive them too, since their age-worn immune systems may be weakened. Crowded retirement or nursing homes are an ideal place for infections to spread rapidly, so vaccines for the elderly can keep them safe.
Effective Vaccine Storage
A research lab or a hospital will have many vaccines on hand, but the staff there will need the correct method to safely store them. No ordinary fridge or freezer unit will do; these commercial units are meant for food, and they have an unacceptably wide variance of internal temperature as their doors are opened and closed. Instead, a lab or a hospital will make use of a medical grade benchtop freezer or even an under-counter freezer unit. These fridges and other cooling units are more precise in their temperature control, and they will have enough storage racks for a number of vaccines to be stored inside. Many wholesalers of medical supplies may provide these freezers, and a medical facility’s staff may look for them online. The staff’s needs will affect which unit they buy, since a too-large unit is a waste of money and space and a too-small unit can’t even store all of the vaccines the staff need to store in it. In some cases, the staff may clear out floor space for a larger unit, or they may place a lighter, smaller unit on a shelf or on a counter. If space is limited, the staff may put the freezer under the counter. In these units, refrigerated vaccines are stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and frozen ones in a temperature ranging from -58 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.