As they are a biological product, vaccines need to be kept at very specific temperatures in order to maintain their effectiveness. Once a dose of vaccine is manufactured, it has to be transported to clinics and health centers all over the world, and then stored sufficiently until it is injected into somebody’s arm.

The vaccine cold chain refers to the global network of cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes, and carriers that keep vaccines at exactly the right temperature so they don’t spoil.

This includes every stage between manufacture and final use. Starting with the transportation from the factory where the vaccines are produced, to the storage units in the healthcare practice where they will be given to patients.

Most vaccines are recommended to be kept between 2°C and 8°C from the point they are made until they reach the recipients. Some need to be kept much colder than this though (this is called an ultra-cold chain). One example of which is the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine which has to be stored at roughly -70°C in order to preserve its maximum effectiveness.

Maintaining a continuous cold chain for vaccines presents a difficult logistical challenge. Medical refrigerators and ultra low temperature freezers play a vital role in this process, which we explore in more detail below.

vaccine cold chain

Medical Refrigerators & Freezers in the Cold Chain

Specialist medical refrigerators and ultra low freezers are essential in ensuring that the cold chain system is not broken. Standard domestic fridges and freezers would not be capable of accurately and reliably maintaining the precise temperature range required.

Medical refrigerators typically come equipped with specialist features such as alarms that sound if the temperature falls outside of the required range and locks to prevent unauthorised access. They come available in a range of types and sizes to meet the requirements of different healthcare practices and laboratories.

Vaccines need to be correctly stored within a medical refrigerator in order to maintain the cold chain. This includes keeping the individual vaccine doses at least 1cm apart from each other, and not touching the sides or back of the refrigerator. It is recommended that medical fridges should never be more than 75% full. In addition, regular cleaning and maintenance is required for the optimum performance of a medical refrigerator.

Temperature Monitoring

Above all else, regularly monitoring the temperature of the medical fridge is critical to ensuring that the vaccine cold chain is not compromised. Thermometers inside the fridge will record temperatures in real-time, but someone will also need to keep a log of daily readings to identify if the cold chain has been broken at any point.

Green Cooling

At Green Cooling, we provide industry-leading bespoke medical refrigeration solutions for the vaccine cold chain. We can design a refrigeration system that meets all the requirements of your medical facility or laboratory. As one of the UK’s leading providers of medical refrigeration equipment and ultra low temperature freezers, we have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. We work with state of the art energy-efficient technologies to keep your costs low and reduce the impact on the environment.

If you have any questions about medical fridges or freezers for the vaccine cold chain, please contact a member of the Green Cooling team today.

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