While concerns about proper vaccine handling and storage are nothing new, 2020 has made this topic of conversation quite timely. Laboratories and health centers worldwide are preparing for large quantities of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV) pandemic. 

While there’s still plenty of work to be done to produce what’s expected to be the highest-demand vaccine in history, early preparation is critical. Here are some important things to know about choosing the right medical refrigerator for vaccines.

Why Vaccines Require Medical Refrigerators

Temperature control is one of the most vital factors of maintaining the integrity of a vaccine as it moves through the chain of custody. This care and attention to keeping the vaccine at a consistent temperature ensure that every vaccine administered works to its full potential. Temperature fluctuations and mishandling can compromise the efficacy of the vaccine and put lives at risk.

Medical grade refrigerators have the features required to ensure consistent temperature storage. They are more complex and nuanced than a refrigerator used in a home, which is susceptible to temperature fluctuations.

Choosing the Right Size

Choosing the right size is important for two primary reasons: temperature control and capacity. There must be enough room to store the vaccines that come into the lab or health center so that no vaccines go to waste due to poor planning. Additionally, having the right capacity to ensure proper temperature control is also crucial. 

Sizing also plays a role in where the refrigerator will be placed. Placement is essential with medical refrigerators to ensure easy accessibility to those who need it and ensure enough airflow for the refrigerator to work at an optimal level.

Choosing the Right Opacity

You can procure medical refrigerators with either clear glass doors or solid, opaque doors. You can visit American BioTech Supply to see the pros and cons of each. 

When you have a clear glass door, anyone can see what’s inside, which is a concern for some situations. However, having a glass door helps maintain the temperature and allows people to assess quantities and needs without opening the fridge. 

Opaque doors add a level of security. However, there are many glass door options with keypads or locks to protect what’s inside.

Temperature Monitoring Considerations

As temperature control is crucial, having a medical fridge with advanced temperature monitoring capabilities is a wise investment. Look for a medical refrigerator with an external temperature display to make monitoring easy. It’s also worth looking for a fridge with a temperature alert system that sets off a notification if there’s an issue. 

Another smart feature to have in place for temperature monitoring is an open door alarm or a self-closing door. It’s important to understand that these are fail-safe features, not a tool for allowing complacency.

Thoughts on Refrigerator and Freezer Combinations

While there are some medical-grade refrigerator and freezer combination appliances, the CDC highly advises against these models. Combination appliances are notorious for inconsistent temperatures within the refrigerator compartment.

If your health center or lab requires both a refrigerator and a freezer for storing vaccines and samples, get two separate units. This ensures that all vaccines are getting the temperature control they require with minimal fluctuation.

Ensuring Adequate Airflow

Another important consideration within a medical refrigerator is the airflow, as this also plays a role in temperature consistency. Choosing wire or mesh shelving can help improve the airflow in a vaccine refrigerator. While many laboratories prefer glass, this does impede the airflow within the appliance.

If you’ll be placing your medical refrigerator in a recessed space or under the counter, ensure you choose a model that’s built for that placement. These models have a front fan system to ensure proper airflow. 

It’s essential to take some time comparing the various options for medical-grade refrigerators. Temperature control and consistency is the top priority when choosing this appliance.