Except for a few vaccines that must be frozen, vaccines must be refrigerated.
These vaccines should be stored in a vaccine refrigerator at a temperature between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C), with a target of 40°F (5°C).
You can’t just put vaccines in any old refrigerator though.
Buying a Vaccine Refrigerator
Although there are many types of refrigerators in which you could store your vaccines, ideally, a pediatrician’s best and safest option is a biologic-grade, full-sized, stand-alone refrigerator.
You have options though.
A dormitory style refrigerator is not one of them. However, although it is discouraged, you can use a stand-alone household refrigerator. Just don’t store anything besides vaccines in it at the same time! And make plans to replace it with a medical-grade refrigerator as soon as you possibly can.
Choosing the Best Vaccine Storage Refrigerator
Among the key features to look for when buying a vaccine refrigerator, include:
- an electronic, microprocessor controlled, digital thermostat, avoiding a mechanical or analog thermostat or dial
- user programmable temperature alarming in case the refrigerator temperature begins to get too hot or too cold
- remote alarm contacts
- an external temperature display so that you don’t have to open the refrigerator door to check the air temperature
- adjustable wire shelving, instead of solid shelving, to improve circulation
- a probe access port to allow the entry of a temperature probe wire
- interior fan-forced air circulation to equalize the temperature throughout the refrigerator
- a solid door, instead of a glass door, as a solid door will maintain the refrigerator’s temperature longer if the power goes out, although a glass door can help with inventory control
- an audible door alarm, so that you are alerted if the door is left open
- a self-closing door
- a keyed door lock with multiple keys
- a refrigerator that is large enough to fit all of your inventory without any crowding, especially when you have a full stock of vaccines, including flu vaccines, at your busiest time of year (this is your maximum stock level or calculated peak dose inventory). Remember that you also need extra space for water bottles to help stabilize the temperature during power failures.
And make sure your new vaccine storage refrigerator fits where you want to put it and that the door opens in the direction (right vs left hinged, as they are usually not reversible) that you need it to.
Biologic grade vaccine refrigerators are available from the following companies:
- Accucold VAC Series
- Aegis Scientific
- American Biotech Supply
- Lab Research Products
- Marvel Scientific
- Migali Scientific Refrigeration
- Panasonic Healthcare
- Powers Scientific
- So-Low Environmental Equipment Co
- ThermoFisher Scientific makes the Revco, Jewett, and TSX high performance vaccine refrigerators and
- TempStable Refrigerator (maintains temperature for up to 6 days without power!)
- TruMed AccuVax (an automated vaccine storage and handling system!)
- FridgeFreeze (portable refrigerators and freezers)
- Sun Frost (a solar powered/12 volt or 24 volt DC vaccine refrigerator!)
- ACE Laboratory Systems (used and refurbished refrigerators)
- Labequip (used and refurbished refrigerators)
- LabX (used and refurbished refrigerators)
Choosing a vaccine refrigerator can be confusing, especially since most seem to have all of the features that the CDC and other experts recommend that you look for.
To make it a little easier, consider starting your search with these popular vaccine storage refrigerators (not endorsements):
- ABS Standard Solid Door Refrigerator
- Aegis Scientific 1-R-25
- Follett REF20-LB
- Helmer Scientific iLR120
- Migali Scientific Evolution, Genesis – Model #EVOX-U1R-ADA (under counter)
- Migali Scientific Evolution – Model EVOX-1R
- NorLake Scientific NSPR331WWW/0 Premier
- Panasonic Healthcare MPR-721-PA
Since price is going to be a factor, be sure to ask the sales rep for your medical supplies which vaccine refrigerators they can get the best deals on.
And make sure your refrigerator meets any other requirements that you have, especially if you are a Vaccines for Children provider.
What to Know About Buying a Vaccine Refrigerator
Do your research and choose a vaccine storage refrigerator that can easily store all of vaccines without crowding and which has key features to keep them safe and at the proper temperature.
More About Buying a Vaccine Refrigerator
- Buying A New Vaccine Fridge
- AAP – Refrigerators, Freezers, and Vaccine Storage
- AAP – Immunization Training Guide & Practice Procedure Manual
- CDC – Vaccine Storage and Handling
- CDC – “Keys to Storing and Handling Your Vaccine Supply” Training Video
- Buying a Refrigerator Factsheet
- Refrigerator/Freezer Purchasing Guide (with prices!)
- How To Select a Medical Refrigerator
- Choosing a Vaccine Refrigerator or Freezer
- How many linear inches do you need to store each vaccine?
- Picking a Vaccine Storage Unit Size and Style of Storage
- Guidelines for Storage and Temperature Monitoring of Refrigerated Vaccines
- Fridge and Freeze Guide
- Suggestions for Refrigerators and Freezers for Vaccine Storage
- 2017 Louisiana Vaccines for Children Program Refrigerator and Freezer Guide
- Transporting Refrigerated Vaccines
- Vaccine Storage and Handling Resources
- Ask the Experts about Vaccine Storage and Handling
- Checklist for Safe Vaccine Storage and Handling
- Refrigerator Door Opening Field Study
- Thermal Analysis of Refrigeration Systems Used for Vaccine Storage
- Vaccine Fridge Field Study ‘Opens Doors’ to New Standards
- Direct-Drive Solar Vaccine Refrigerators—A New Choice for Vaccine Storage