Over the past four centuries, a number of innovations have moved the field of medical science ahead by great leaps. In the 1600s, the invention of microscopes allowed scientists to observe micro organisms, leading to the discovery of cells. Meanwhile, germ theory and vaccines have done much in the endless battle against disease, aided by the development of sterilization techniques in the 1800s. In the past and present alike, vaccines have prevented millions of deaths, and protected entire communities from deadly viruses such as measles and smallpox. But these vaccines are also delicate, so hospital and research lab staff are always looking for pharmaceutical freezers, vaccine refrigerators, and laboratory freezers to store these specimens at just the right temperature. Some such vaccine freezers are large, but some undercounter medical refrigerators can be used for smaller labs with limited floor space. These undercounter medical refrigerators tend to be on the smaller side. What is there to know, overall, about vaccines and their storage methods?
Vaccines and Their Development
The concept of vaccines is, in fact, older than many people may even realize. They were first pioneered in 1796, when a man named Edward Jenner developed what he dubbed the “arm to arm” inoculation method for fighting smallpox. He did this by extracting a tissue sample from the skin blister of a cowpox patient and transferring it to another patient. In this way, the second patient developed a resistance to smallpox, since their immune system was trained with exposure to cowpox. This concept proved a success, and vaccines continued to be developed and enhanced over time. By the 1940s, vaccines were being mass produced for the first time, and most of them were geared to fight common diseases of the day such as smallpox, tetanus, whooping cough, and Diphtheria. Over the next few decades, vaccines for Polio and measles became common as well, and today Polio is practically extinct, along with smallpox.
Many statistics and studies are done to track the use of vaccines, and the numbers are promising. Overall, vaccines prevent nearly 2.5 million deaths around the world every single year, and this certainly includes measles in particular. Ever since the year 2000, measles vaccines have prevented nearly 17.1 million deaths in total, according to data from the WHO and the Measles and Rubella Initiative. More specifically, the total of measles-related deaths has dropped from 548,000 per year around 2000 down to 115,900 or so by 2014, which is a 79% decrease.
Who gets all these vaccines? Everyone can and should be inoculated against disease regularly, but babies, toddlers, and the elderly in particular need them. Responsible parents will bring their babies and toddlers to the doctor’s office for routine and safe shots against influenza and other diseases, and this helps bolster a child’s developing immune system. This contrasts to past centuries, when many babies and small children died of disease. The elderly, meanwhile, may get shots to update their own immune systems, and this can help contain the spread of disease in crowded retirement homes.
It is clear that vaccines are very powerful and important tools against disease, but they are also fragile, and sensitive to temperature. To store them, the staff at a hospital or a research lab will invest in medical grade freezers and coolers, ranging from large units to small, undercounter medical refrigerators. Ordinary, commercial cooling units will not do, since they are designed with food and drinks in mind. These units’ internal temperatures vary too much when their doors are opened and closed, but medical grade freezers and undercounter medical refrigerators will more carefully regulate their internal temperatures.
When a doctor or researcher is ready to order such a cooling unit, they can browse the online catalogs that medical supply wholesalers offer, including price tags and clear photos of each model. A large, busy hospital will need a bigger unit that holds many vaccines, and the staff may clear up floor space for it. A small research lab might not have as much room, so a big unit would not fit well. Instead, the staff may look for units small enough to place on a countertop, or even an undercounter medical refrigerator. Undercounter units can save a lot of room.