What Makes a Vaccine Refrigerator or Freezer Different?
Vaccine refrigerators and freezers, also referred to as medical-grade or purpose-built units, are designed and manufactured specifically for the storage of temperature sensitive vaccines such as Influenza, rotavirus, MMRV, Shingrix, and the new COVID-19 vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has detailed recommendations around the selection and operation of vaccine refrigerators and freezers, including specific vaccine storage guidelines for VFC (Vaccines for Children) providers. These units can be compact, under-the-counter style or large upright units.
Helmer Scientific offers a full range of vaccine and pharmacy refrigerators and freezers with superior temperature uniformity, recovery and stability. Local alarms, event logging and continuous temperature monitoring help pharmacies and other healthcare facilities meet CDC and VFC guidelines and regulations. In addition, the NSF Joint Committee on Vaccine Storage has been working to create a standard for vaccine refrigeration engineering controls to help ensure vaccines are stored safely under real-world conditions. Ensure that your temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals, medications and vaccines are protected with professional, medical-grade refrigeration.
CDC Vaccine Storage & Handling Guidelines
Healthcare facilities across the country are working hard to understand and implement the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and recommendations related to vaccine storage and handling. These guidelines apply to all facilities that handle vaccines. The CDC encourages providers to move toward implementing these guidelines as soon as possible. Providers participating in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program must pay extra attention to these guidelines and should consult their state or local immunization program for specific recommendations and requirements.
NSF / ANSI 456 Standard for Vaccine Storage
The CDC toolkit does not provide specific performance criteria for cold storage. However, the NSF Joint Committee on Vaccine Storage has published a new standard for vaccine refrigeration engineering controls to help ensure vaccines are stored safely under real world conditions. The committee, comprised of stakeholders from public health, government agencies, manufacturers, and providers, developed standardized testing protocols and product certifications for vaccine refrigerator and freezer performance to help clinicians understand the true performance of vaccine storage equipment. The NSF / ANSI 456 standard for vaccine storage is designed to ensure equipment has appropriate temperature performance to safeguard vaccines in all potential storage locations and under varying load conditions.
What's at Risk with Improper Vaccine Storage
The goal of the Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit is to protect patients & the public from preventable disease.
Storage at manufacture recommended temperatures is essential for maintaining vaccine efficacy. Loss of potency can result from exposure to excessive heat, cold, and/or light. Once potency is lost, it cannot be regained. Administering ineffective vaccine puts patient and public health at risk of preventable disease.
Understanding the CDC Vaccine Guidelines
The Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit outlines everything you need to know about appropriate storage.
The toolkit outlines CDC Recommendations, which are the minimal actions required to protect your vaccine supply as well as CDC Best Practices, which outlines additional actions, practices and procedures to enhance protection of your vaccine supply. The CDC encourages providers to implement these guidelines as soon as possible.
Selecting Vaccine Storage Equipment
There are several types of vaccine storage units available. Purpose-built units are specifically designed to store vaccines. The CDC recommends the use of purpose-built or medical-grade units designed to either refrigerate or freeze. Vaccine units can be compact, under-the-counter style or large upright models. Purpose-built units, sometimes referred to as “pharmaceutical-grade,” are designed specifically for storage of biologics, including vaccines. To fully ensure the safety of vaccines, equipment should include a recommended unit with enough space to accommodate your maximum inventory without crowding. Download our Best Practices Guide for Selecting Vaccine Refrigerators for tips to ensure all critical aspects needed to meet regulatory guidelines are considered.
Preparing to Receive Vaccines
Now is the ideal time to evaluate your vaccine storage strategy to ensure your practice is ready to receive, handle and administer increased doses of vaccine.
Proper vaccine storage and handling is essential for successful vaccination programs.
Make sure you have enough storage to receive initial shipments and add additional storage as needed. Be prepared to receive multiple shipments, and ensure that all individuals who will be storing or handling vaccines are thoroughly trained.
For your convenience, we have created a convenient checklist to guide your preparation.
Eliminate Costly Temperature Excursions
When vaccines are stored at the wrong temperatures, they may no longer be effective and re-vaccination may be necessary. Know the manufacturer recommended temperature needed to remain efficacy to ensure you have the right type of storage units.
Storing vaccines at the proper temperatures helps you:
- Maximize patient vaccination rate
- Eliminate the need to re-vaccinate (due to temperature excursions)
- Avoid possible false immunization due to an ineffective vaccine
- Reduce vaccine wastage
Vaccine Storage Solutions from Helmer Scientific
Appropriate cold storage is vitally important. The right cold storage solution helps your facility address vaccine demands and requirements.
GX Solutions, professional medical-grade pharmacy and vaccine refrigerators and freezers take safe and effective vaccine storage to new levels.
Focusing on temperature, noise, and energy management, GX Solutions are the first cold storage solutions to optimize all three areas and offer a professional, medical-grade solution.
GX Solutions help eliminate costly temperature excursions with superior temperature uniformity; keeping temperatures within +/-1°C throughout the unit; offer faster recovery after prolonged door openings; and create fewer deviations from the set point, avoiding rapid, significant changes in temperature which could put vaccines at risk for temperature excursions.
Powered by OptiCool™ technology which pairs variable capacity compressor (VCC) technology and natural hydrocarbons (HC) refrigerants, GX Solutions support current CDC guidelines for safe vaccine storage. In addition, GX Solutions have been designed to meet the new NSF standards. In testing, the performance of Helmer Scientific vaccine refrigerators exceeded the draft testing protocol that simulates real-world, clinical vaccine conditions.
Other Vaccine Storage Solutions
In addition to GX Solutions Vaccine Refrigerators, Helmer Scientific offers a full line of -30°C laboratory freezers and -86°C Ultra-low Temperature Freezers, ideal for the storage of frozen vaccines. These units offer superior temperature uniformity and reliability along with access control options to safeguard vaccines.
Helping You Comply with CDC Guidelines
Safe and effective vaccine storage is an essential part of protecting the population from devastating disease. Providers are looking to the CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit for essential information on proper storage, handling, monitoring, and administration of vaccines. In addition, the new NSF standards further insure performance criteria for cold storage units.
The risks related to improper vaccine storage are too profound to ignore. At Helmer Scientific, we have been designing and manufacturing reliable, purpose-built or medical-grade refrigerators and freezers for over 15 years. For more information on choosing the right equipment to help meet CDC recommendations, please reach out to our experienced team by clicking the link below.