There are few things as important to medical safety as ensuring that vaccines stay safe. A pharmacy grade refrigerator or medical refrigerator play a key roll in this protection.
The History of Vaccines
The earliest vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner. At the time, smallpox was one of the most dangerous killers of children, with a death rate of about 30%. The Chinese had practiced exposing people to a small amount of the virus, which, when successful resulted in lifetime immunity. However, this method also could result in a severe infection and the person so inoculated was also a carrier of the disease who could spread it to others.
Jenner discovered that exposing someone to a minuscule amount of cowpox–a virus from the same family, but which was essentially harmless to human beings–could innoculate a person against smallpox. This method of smallpox vaccination soon spread all over the world, and in 1980 the World Health Organization declared smallpox to be an eradicated disease.
Other vaccines followed, and it was not until the 1940s that large-scale production of vaccines became a possibility, in part because refrigeration made it possible to preserve the vaccines. The first vaccines recommended for universal use in the United States were for smallpox, pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus.
The Importance of Vaccines
The measles vaccine alone, according to the World Health Organization and the Measles and Rubella Initiative, is believed to have saved more than 17 million lives since 2000, with the rate of deaths due to measles decreasing 79% between 2000 and 2014. All told, vaccines are believed to prevent 2.5 million deaths every year. Vaccines are so crucial to the health and welfare of the world that the call for the production of the pharmacy grade refrigerator and vaccine freezer, as well as ways to continually calibrate and test their operation, have become an essential industry.
The Lack of Vaccines
For a variety of reasons, as many as 24 million of the world’s children do not have the routine vaccines that they need before the age of 12 months. Just over 6% of children have never gotten a Polio vaccine, and nearly one and a half million people are currently living with chronic Hepatitis B–which can be prevented by vaccine–and which causes complications such as liver cancer.
Part of the issue with vaccines is access. Getting the vaccines to those who need them, and then keeping them safe in a pharmacy grade refrigerator is a challenge the world has not yet fully met. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that in the U.S. alone, vaccinations could have prevented 732, 000 deaths and as many as 21 million hospitalizations among children born in the last two decades. For children in poorer countries, the problem can be far worse.
The Storage of Vaccines
Vaccines need to be either refrigerated or frozen and must be kept in a pharmacy grade refrigerator or scientific freezer of some kind. A pharmacy grade refrigerator differs from a home fridge in that is made with stronger components that are less likely to fail. It comes with compressors for each compartment to ensure that temperature controls are more accurate. They also normally have alarms to alert when the door is open or when temperatures are changing.
Vaccines stored in a pharmacy grade refrigerator must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit as mandated by the CDC. Those vaccines that need to be stored in a freezer should be kept between -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Whenever vaccines are stored, temperatures in the container must be recorded at the start of every day and whenever the refrigerator is accessed. If the temperature ever falls out of range, this has to be reported.
Few things in the medical world as crucial as vaccines, the medical refrigerators and freezers that store them safely, and faithful adherence to best practices surrounding their use. The next step is getting these vaccines, their storage units, and these best practices to more places in the world.