Vaccine fridges are crucial because vaccines are temperature-sensitive, much like milk. If vaccines get too warm, their shelf life shortens, and unlike milk, vaccines cannot be frozen as it renders them ineffective. In Australia, vaccines must be stored between 2°C and 8°C, prompting the “Strive for 5” campaign.
The Aim of a Vaccine Fridge
So if vaccines must be stored between 2° and 5° the aim of a vaccine fridge is to reliably control the temperature between these ranges. The aim of a domestic fridge is to “try to keep my stuff cool”. How often have you pulled out a frozen item out of your fridge?
This article will cover the differences between a domestic and a vaccine fridge. There are now a number of domestic fridges that have many of these advanced features and this will increase with time.
Special Features of Vaccine Fridges
Temperature control: Vaccine fridges have a built-in microprocessor that controls the compressor, ensuring precise temperature management. In contrast, domestic fridges rely on a simple dial without control over when the compressor turns off.
Processor Capabilities: The built-in processor in vaccine fridges offers additional functionalities, such as displaying the temperature externally. This serves as a crucial tool for staff to monitor and maintain the required temperature for vaccine storage.
Non-Exposed Cooling Plate: Some vaccine fridges feature a non-exposed cooling plate, allowing products to be pushed against it. This feature enhances the efficiency of temperature regulation, though not all vaccine fridges may have it.
Fan-forced: Vaccine fridges are fan-forced, promoting uniform temperature distribution. Similar to a fan-forced oven, overloading the fridge can disrupt this balance, which may indicate the need for a larger fridge.
Alarm Systems: Vaccine fridges come equipped with various alarm options, including local buzzers and external alarm capabilities. This ensures prompt notification if issues arise, such as leaving the door open. In domestic fridges, problems often go unnoticed until the next use.
Glass Doors: Glass doors are an optional feature in vaccine fridges. While convenient for not having to open the door to see inside, they may impact the fridge’s ability to retain heat during power loss.
It’s all about reliable temperature
So a vaccine fridge has a micro-processor to ensure the compressor turns on and off at the correct temperatures, displays the temperature, and has an alarm if a problem occurs. The fridge itself has a fan to circulate the air.
Worth the Price?
The documented risk of vaccines freezing in domestic fridges is a serious concern. It’s our professional opinion that, relying on such storage not only jeopardizes the effectiveness of vaccines but also poses significant financial and credibility risks. Investing in proper vaccine storage is crucial to mitigate these potential damages.
Yet, the real cost of inadequately stored vaccines is felt by patients, who may receive compromised vaccines. This not only poses health risks but can lead to unexpected diseases, causing lasting effects and further damaging the professional standing of healthcare providers.