Keeping Your COVID-19 Vaccines Safe

While many people worldwide prefer the safety of online shopping at home, retail store traffic seems to be as frantic as ever. One hot item on the holiday shopping list might surprise you - refrigerator locks. In the US, front line medical professionals are first to receive the newly released Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Medical practices, hospitals, and clinics have invested in medical-grade cold storage - including expensive ultra-low -70 freezers to store the vaccines. A growing concern amongst medical offices is the security of the valuable vaccines amidst such high demand.

Across the world, black markets are common for everything from weapons to avocados. Will we see a black market for stolen COVID-19 vaccines? On December 2nd, Interpol issued a warning about organized crime threats to theft of the COVID-19 vaccine. Purchasers of medical cold-storage aren’t taking any chances. “We are asked several times a day about additional locks.” K2 Scientific CMO, Art Henson, said when asked about customer concerns. “All K2 medical, lab, pharmacy freezers come with a basic key lock. But some customers want extra security.” Henson added.

The keys to most high-performance medical refrigeration aren’t unique. The keys from one lab freezer may unlock similar lab freezers, and the commonality could pose a security risk if someone intended to steal the COVID-19 vaccine. Fortunately, inexpensive options are available that can make COVID-19 vaccine storage more secure.

Cable Locks for medical refrigerators and freezers

Hinge lock

The least expensive lab freezer lock ($20-$30) is the Cable Lock. It has two strong adhesive pads that attach to the door and the cabinet securing the door with a braided steel cable. Choices include key and combination lock options. Cable locks are easy to install on any refrigerator or freezer and will be a deterrent even if they don’t provide maximum security.

What to look for: Find a cable lock made of metal. Plastic cable locks provide some protection but are easier to break into. Also, make sure the cable is too thick to be cut with regular wire cutters.

Hinged locks for medical refrigerators and freezers

other lock

Hinged locks, generally made of durable steel, are more secure than cable locks making them more taper-proof. They can cost twice as much ($60) as a cable lock, but they will offer much more security.

What to look for: Fit! Make sure the hinge lock will fit your lab freezer or refrigerator. Check the specs closely along with the installation instructions. Some may require drilling holes in your freezer and can void your warranty. Check with the manufacturer before making any modifications to the cabinet.

Digital locks for medical refrigerators and freezers

Digital lock

Sometimes just the appearance of a digital lock is enough to dissuade someone from trying to break in. One main reason is that most digital locks also have audible tamper alarms. Digital locks start around $100 and can be as expensive as $500. They may also need to be installed by a professional.

What to look for: Fit. Make sure the digital lock you’re interested in will fit the medical freezer or refrigerator you have. Check installation to see how difficult and expensive it may be.

At K2 Scientific, we recommend consulting the security team at your hospital or clinic to determine what option best fits your COVID-19 vaccine storage needs. We would be glad to consult you on the best medical grade refrigerator or freezer you should buy to meet your storage needs.

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