Selecting the right cold storage unit for your specific application requires some degree of consideration. However, selecting a vaccine refrigerator or freezer involves other aspects that could potentially present problems if not addressed before buying. Many factors come into play with respect to medical and lab-grade refrigeration. Though there is an obvious consideration toward temperature performance, it is common for other important factors to go unnoticed until post-purchase.
A mistake in purchasing the wrong medical refrigerator or freezer unit could end in a costly disaster or, worse, an adverse effect on a patient. As such, purchasing agents should take some time to learn what type of vaccine storage unit will work best for their clinical space:
- Size and Footprint
- Temperature Requirements
- Energy Output
- Vaccine Type
These are just a few of the factors that can help determine what type of cold storage is best suited for your clinical needs. We took our most asked questions and provided answers that are consistent with the CDC guide to best practices to help you navigate purchasing decisions for laboratory-grade refrigerators and freezers.
1. Do You Need a Calibration Certificate?
You must have a valid calibration certificate or report of calibration available for each device used to monitor temperatures inside a unit that stores publicly funded vaccines. There is often a bit of confusion in terms of what is needed when you purchase a medical vaccine refrigerator. For example, do you need both a vaccine refrigerator and a data logger to stay in line with VFC reporting and temperature alarms?
The answer is two-fold:
YES, a vaccine refrigerator is required for any publicly funded vaccine for children or VFC, and YES, a data logger is also recommended because most medical or vaccine refrigerators do not have NIST calibrated controllers.
In addition, there are some cost-saving advantages to using a data logger. Obtaining a recalibration certificate is a bit easier and more cost-effective with a data logger than having a calibration specialist issue a certificate on-site following a recalibration service of the entire vaccine refrigerator unit.
Data logger calibration requires shipping the unit back to the seller for calibration service and a new calibration certificate. In contrast, the cost to recalibrate a vaccine refrigerator in a clinical environment is significantly more expensive ($200-$1500) or more.
2. What Are the Main Differences Between a Glass Door vs a Solid Door?
The experts recommend solid doors, medical-grade refrigerators, or freezers for the purpose of housing vaccines. The reason is that solid doors are found to be slightly more insulated than glass door models. Also, a greater insulation value means less power is needed to maintain consistent temperatures.
Aesthetically, glass doors are attractive. They also can help maintain a visual on valuable vaccine payloads, possibly reducing excessive door opening and closing. However, solid-door vaccine refrigerators are recommended for optimal energy output.
3. Are Bins and Baskets Needed in Vaccine Refrigerators?
CDC does not regulate the type or brands of containers/ bins for storage of vaccine products, but they do recommend the use of uncovered containers that allow for organization and air circulation. In the event of a power outage or brown-out, vaccine payloads that are stored in perforated boxes or bins are proven to help maintain temperature longer.
4. Why the CDC Recommends Stand-Alone Style Cold Storage Units for Vaccines?
Because clinical studies warn of temperature inconsistencies in the use of combination units, the CDC recommends the use of standalone freezers or refrigerators for the purpose of housing vaccine payloads. Temperature excursions were found to be more prevalent in these types of models, and unfortunately, vaccines lose their effectiveness when exposed to excessive heat or freezing temperatures.
5. Why Aren’t Dormitory Style Refrigerators Suitable for Use in Small Clinics?
The most important reason is that the use of dormitory-style refrigerators is not recognized by the CDC as acceptable storage of VFC vaccines purchased with public funds. Dorm-style refrigerators don’t have the same features as their medical-grade counterparts..
When dormitory-style refrigeration units were tested for temperature efficiency, they demonstrated dramatic temperature inconsistencies, regardless of vaccine placement within the unit. Therefore, dorm-style units are not recommended for any biologics or scientific use.
Compact or benchtop pharmacy-grade refrigerators and freezers are designed to maintain consistent temperatures with minimal variations throughout the cabinet. The CDC recommends that cold storage units be:
- Large enough to store the year's largest vaccine inventory without crowding
- Store water bottles and frozen water packs to minimize any fluctuation in temperature
Sourcing Vaccine Cold-Storage Units with K2 Scientific
When it comes to value, service, and selection, K2 Scientific ranks as one of the best in the industry. We take pride in offering state-of-the-art, medical-grade vaccine-type refrigeration at prices that won’t break the budget. Much of our inventory is fully stocked and ready for timely shipment. For detailed information, please contact one of our K2 team members.