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Vaccine Refrigerators and Freezers

Either pharmacy or biological grade refrigerators/freezers are recommended for just these functions. All personnel using these units should be briefed on proper operating procedures including record keeping.


All vaccines are not the same. For example the vaccine for the 2010 2011 flu season will be damaged by freezing, while others must be kept frozen from the time of manufacture to just prior to administering. Guidelines provided by California's Department of Public Health state that because manual defrost refrigerators have significant temperature variations, often freezing and damaging vaccines, they should not be used for vaccine storage. Instead specify auto defrost refrigerators. Conversely manual defrost units are preferable for vaccine freezers providing there is an alternate freezer to hold the vaccines while the primary freezer undergoes defrosting.


Temperature control is critical and the correct storage temperature is provided by the vaccine supplier. Most vaccines should be refrigerated between 36 degrees and 46 degrees F year around, while freezers should maintain a temperature of 5 degrees F or below. Auto defrost refrigerators feature digital LED microprocessor controls with temperature displays and high low audible and visual alarms that signal if the unit operates outside preset temperature limits. Manual defrost laboratory freezers feature adjustable temperature control and offer an optional digital thermometer alarm.


Power Saving Vaccine Refrigerator


If a refrigerator or freezer does not have an external temperature display an NIST or ASTM certified thermometer should be placed centrally in the unit. Temperatures should be recorded at the beginning and end of the day.


The size of the units should store the largest number of vaccine doses expected to be administered while allowing enough space to keep the vaccines 2 to 3 inches away from walls, floors and other materials inside. With the exception of other medications the units should not be used to refrigerate or freeze any other products. Glass doors allowing constant monitoring of contents, magnetic door gaskets for improved sealing and lockable doors for further product protection are desirable features.


Before purchasing a new Power Saving Vaccine Refrigerator or vaccine freezer take the time to find space for it in your healthcare facility. Units should not be placed in areas where they receive direct sunlight, or under or near heating and air conditioning ducts. Units should have their own electrical outlet, preferably on its own circuit. Be sure to allow enough room for air to freely circulate above and around the unit. Steps should be in place to quickly relocate contents in the event of a power failure or unit malfunction.


In summary, proper vaccine storage is critical in any healthcare facility for the protection of patients and protection of the vaccine inventory. Residential refrigerators and freezers are a poor substitute for scientific grade equipment designed especially for vaccines. More details at syroundfin.


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