A vaccine is only as good as the solution used to store it, as many require highly specific temperatures to remain effective. Any deviation from this can have a dramatic impact on a vaccine’s viability and, at worse, render it useless. The WHO estimates that more than 50 percent of vaccines may be wasted globally every year due to temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues. For our part, Thermo Fisher Scientific strives to provide hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacies with the tools they need to deliver every vaccine at full strength and efficacy – and that starts with the right cold storage.
You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to storing vaccines – which is why we provide high-performance purpose built refrigerators, freezers, and ultra low freezers that are designed to meet current and impending standards from the CDC, WHO, NSF 456 and other global agencies for vaccine storage.
Vaccine storage guidelines and temperatures
The vaccine “cold chain” maintains product quality from the time of manufacture until the point of administration. If the cold chain is not properly maintained, vaccine potency may be lost, resulting in a useless vaccine supply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Storage Handling Tool Kit, updated annually, provides the following guidelines and recommendations for proper vaccine storage:
- Use purpose-built or pharmaceutical-grade units designed to either refrigerate or freeze. These units can be compact, under-the-counter style or large.
- Microprocessor-based temperature control with a digital temperature sensor (thermocouple, resistance temperature detector [RTD], or thermistor)
- Fan-forced air circulation with powerful fans or multiple cool air vents promoting uniform temperature and fast temperature recovery from an out-of-range temperature.
- Refrigerators should maintain temperatures between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F)*
- Freezers should maintain temperatures between -50°C and -15°C (-58°F and +5°F)
A new standard has been published by NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation). The NSF put together a multi-institution committee whose goal was to define a set of performance standards for vaccine refrigerators and freezers to help providers select the best products to minimize vaccine wastage. The committee includes representatives from the CDC, state health department immunization programs, nonprofit organizations, and vaccine storage equipment manufacturers, including Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Based on the analysis of data from real-life usage within clinics, pharmacies, and vaccination sites, the committee created a new standard, NSF 456–Vaccine Storage. Its purpose is to help vaccine administrators choose storage units that have been certified to stay within proper temperature ranges to ensure the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and ultimately the public.
Select Thermo Scientific TSX Series High-Performance cold storage units are certified to this standard.
Proper temperatures for vaccine storage
(Refer to the CDC for the most current vaccine list.)
- No exposure to freezing temperatures
- Store at temperatures between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F)
- Keep thermostat set at mid-range to achieve a temperature of about 5°C (40°F), which will decrease the likelihood of temperature excursions
Vaccines to store in a freezer:
HZV, MMRV, MMR, SARS-CoV-2, Varicella
- Store in the freezer maintaining temperatures between –50°C and –15°C (–58°F and +5°F)
- Keep the thermostat at the factory-set or mid-point temperature setting to assure appropriate frozen storage temperature
- Capacities - 2, 5, 12, 23, 30, 50 cu.ft. sizes
- Temperature control - microprocessor control for stability; no exposure to freezing temperatures
- Fan-forced circulation - promotes uniformity and fast recovery
- Capacities - 1, 5, 12, 23, 50 cu.ft. sizes
- Choice on design
- Auto-defrost - utilizes lower set point to compensate for auto defrost cycle
- Manual defrost models for tighter uniformity
- Excellent uniformity to minimize temperature deviation in samples
- Capacities - 1 and 3 cu.ft. small capacity, 300 to 700 box upright models
- Large capacity unit to support global vaccine production - TSX700 with 5 inner doors maximizes dosage storage
- Reliability - 5 year warranty with direct service capabilities
Choose a vaccine refrigerator
View the 3D tour. Click on theicon in the tour to view the vaccine calculator.
|Order now||Order now||Order now|
|Exterior dimensions |
|26 x 23.6 x 32|
(66 x 60 x 81.3cm)
|22.1 x 20.5 x 23|
(56.1 x 52.1 x 58.4cm)
|26 x 23.6 x 32 in.|
(66 x 60 x 81.3cm)
|Interior storage capacity||5.5 cu. ft. (156L)||1.8 cu. ft. (50.9L)||5.5 cu. ft. (156L)|
|Shelves/drawers||3 shelves||3 shelves||3 shelves|
|Door security||Key lock||Key lock||Password protected|
|Setpoint interface||LCD display with separate capacitive touch buttons||LCD display with separate capacitive touch buttons||Touchscreen|
|Weight||145 lbs (66kg)||83 lbs (38kg)||155 lbs (70kg)|
|TSX Sliding Door|
|Request quote||Request quote|
|Style||Upright single door or Upright double door||Upright sliding 2-door|
|Exterior dimensions (DxWxH)|
|36.6 x 56.5 x 78.5 in.|
(93.1 x 143.5 x 199.4cm)
|Interior storage capacity|
|45.8 cu. ft. (1297L)|
|8 wire shelves|
|Door security||Key lock, E-Lock adapter options available||Key lock, E-Lock adapter options available|
|611 lbs. (277kg)|
Choose a vaccine freezer
View the manual defrost freezer 3D tour. Click on theicon in the tour to view the vaccine calculator.
View the auto defrost freezer 3D tour. Click on theicon in the tour to view the vaccine calculator.
|Order now||Order now||Request quote|
|Style||Undercounter||Upright single door||Upright single door|
|Exterior dimensions |
|19.7 x 18.7 x 20.8 in|
(50 x 47.5 x 52.8cm)
|28.5 x 30.0 x 58.0 in.|
(72.3 x 76.2 x 147.3cm)
|37.5 x 28 x 78.6 in|
(95.3 x 711 x 199.6cm)
|Interior storage capacity||1.13 cu. ft. (32L)||29.2 cu. ft. (827L)||23 cu. ft. (650L)|
|Shelves/drawers||1 shelf||4 shelves||4 shelves|
|Door security||Key lock||Key lock||Key lock|
|Weight||44 lbs (20kg)||415 lb. (188kg)||388 lbs (176kg)|
Choose a ULT freezer
|Dependable sample storage is our standard. Choose an ultra-low temperature freezer designed specifically for reliability.||Exceptional performance for everyday assurance. Protect your precious samples and reduce your energy costs with an ultra-low temperature freezer that's built to last.||Peace of mind protection for precious samples. Because your focus should be your discoveries. Our focus is keeping them safe. Our TSX ultra-low temperature freezers provide prime protection, even in the most taxing conditions.|
|Daily energy consumption||as low as 12.0 kWh/day||as low as 10.5 kWh/day||as low as 7.9 kWh/day|
|Door opening recovery||as low as 19 min||as low as 11 min||as low as 17 min|
|Heat rejection (HVAC load)||Medium||Low||Lowest|
|Cooling technology||2-stage cascade compressor|
2-stage single speed compressors
|2-stage variable speed compressors |
Powered by V-Drive
|System refrigerants||HFC1||Natural HC2||Natural HC2|
|Upright freezer storage capacity||280-360 boxes3||300–600 boxes3||400–700 boxes3|
|User interface||Microprocessor control||HIC: Touch button controller||VIC: Touchscreen|
|Certifications||UL, cUL, CE, RoHS, xFDA4||UL, cUL, CE, RoHS, FDA Class II, ENERGY STAR®5||UL, cUL, CE, RoHS, ENERGY STAR®|
|U.S. EPA SNAP compliant|
|EU F-Gas compliant||✓||✓||✓|
|Soft grip handle||✓|
|Thin wall high density storage||✓||✓|
|On-board event/temp. recording|
|Remote monitoring compatible||✓||✓||✓|
|Access/user setting controls||✓||✓||✓|
|USB port for data download|
|Access key/card control options||✓|
|Explore Performance ULTs||Explore STP ULTs||Explore TSX ULTs|
The CDC also recommends the use of a continuous monitoring and recording digital data logger (DDL) to provide the most accurate storage unit temperature information. An accurate temperature history and continuous monitoring of temperatures is critical to protecting your vaccines, and every vaccine storage unit should have its own temperature monitoring device. A dependable data logger is less expensive than replacing wasted vaccines.**
A Smart solution provides a new Vue in Protection
Designed with simplicity, compliance and optimization in mind, Smart-Vue Pro is a next-generation solution for sample storage and processing.
The ability to select the configuration of probe, module, and network type allows you to build the system you need. The modular, customizable architecture allows for easy expansion without costly upgrades. Smart-Vue Pro is compatible with multiple brands and types of equipment. New equipment and labs can be added to existing Smart-Vue Pro systems. With the longer range LoRa, scalability is possible across multiple labs, floors, or buildings with fewer receivers.
Effectively and efficiently measure and log performance data in multiple refrigerators and freezers, simultaneously. A Smart-Vue wireless monitoring system also notifies users remotely in the event of a power or mechanical failure which could threaten vaccine storage protection.
Thermo Scientific™ InSight is a wireless monitoring solution that has been designed to proactively monitor your cold storage equipment. InSight consists of wireless modules (motes), sensors and software tools that allow you to monitor your cold storage equipment’s temperature, energy consumption, door access, reliability, predictive failure analytics, as well as other parameters using Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless protocols.
Data loggers for temperature monitoring
Bring temperature tracking right to your smartphone to ensure the cold chain has been preserved during transport or storage. View complete temperature readings and history with the Smart-Tracker mobile app.
Frequently Asked Vaccine Storage Questions and Myths
Unfortunately, many misconceptions about vaccine storage still exist. These “myths” could have detrimental effects on patients’ health, especially in the midst of a pandemic when immune systems must be as strong as possible. That’s why we’ve set out to debunk some of the most common ones. Here are the top five:
Despite what some people think, not all refrigerators are created equal. Many healthcare institutions still rely on residential-style, or white-box, refrigeration units to keep their sensitive biomedical samples safe. These units simply were not designed to maintain the rigid temperature control necessary for vaccines and other medical samples. If you’ve ever pulled a frozen beverage from the back of your refrigerator, you’ve experienced the problem. Many facilities using these types of units struggle with cabinet temperature uniformity, which can result in some vaccines growing warmer or colder than others. Temperature stability can also become an issue, as these units were not designed for immediate temperature recovery after every door opening. By the end of a busy lab day, the internal temperature of a white box unit could be dangerously high from room-temperature air entering the cabinet, putting vaccines at risk.
It’s for these reasons that many residential and commercial-grade refrigerators state clearly that they are not intended for lab use. Just as a residential coffee maker could void office insurance policies in the event of a fire, the use of a white box unit in the lab could become a liability for lab facilities. Purpose-built cold storage units, such as the Thermo Scientific™ TSX series of lab refrigerators, are designed to help protect precious and highly sensitive biological materials such as vaccines. Unlike the standard compressor that powers a residential unit, the TSX series uses variable speed, or V-drive, technology engineered to provide temperature uniformity throughout the cabinet, while continuously adapting to user patterns and door openings to keep temperatures within a vaccine-safe range at all times. This reliability was key to Thermo Scientific cold storage products receiving Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certification for use in the lab. Since 2010, Thermo Fisher has partnered with UL Environment®, a third-party certification source that provides clarity for the validation of claims and certification of industry standards, to ensure our customers are as protected as possible should an issue arise. UL listings demonstrate that products are fit for lab use, providing another layer of protection and validation should insurance coverage come into question.
We’re proud to say that this is true for Thermo Scientific lab-grade refrigerators. We’ve invested heavily in technology specifically designed to deliver precision temperature control and consistency across the cabinet, so vaccines can be stored safely anywhere within our units. However, this is not the case for residential units. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has had to issue specialized guidelines to combat the unstable temperatures characteristic of white-box units. These include storing vaccines away from a refrigerator’s walls or door where temperature fluctuations are most extreme and using water bottles around the perimeter to stabilize the unit’s temperature. If these rules are not followed, vaccines could be subjected to temperatures outside of their mandated range, calling their integrity into question.
To maintain a highly specific level of cooling, lab refrigerators must be kept running 24/7. The unfavorable side effect of this necessity is that it generates distracting noise and uncomfortable heat. These circumstances have driven lab refrigerators out of the main workspace or forced facilities to turn toward a residential unit, which does not suffer the same inconveniences. However, it’s worth asking: at what cost? Residential units don’t output the same noise or heat levels because they don’t operate with the same precision or reliability. This used to leave many lab professionals at an impasse, but fortunately that’s no longer the case.
Lab-grade refrigerators such as the TSX series have witnessed a dramatic improvement in compressor technology in recent years. These advances have enabled the production of more efficient units that output less heat and also facilitate whisper-quiet operation. With a sound level of 52 A-weighted decibels (dBA), our customers can work alongside a TSX series lab refrigerator without distraction. This has made it possible to return lab-grade refrigerators to the main workspace, so end users can easily access samples without sacrificing on protection.
While the upfront costs of a white-box unit may be cheaper than a purpose-built refrigerator, it’s important to fully consider the risks and long-term costs of the decision. The questionable reliability of a white-box unit could put thousands of dollars – if not more – of samples at risk. It could also leave remote communities at risk of a vaccine shortage. An outage of just one unit filled with vaccines could pay for a purpose-built unit ten times over. Moreover, because of the strict rules around where vaccines can be stored within a residential unit, the cabinet space cannot be fully utilized. This often forces facilities to purchase several residential units when the same volume of product could have been easily stored inside one purpose-built unit.
This is arguably the most dangerous myth of all. Temperature control is essential to a sample’s integrity and, as such, samples are only as reliable as the units in which they are stored. Many vaccines are only effective if they remain within the extremely limited temperature range of 2°C to 8°C. Outside of this range, there is no way to guarantee the vaccine will be effective. Unlike a residential-grade unit, purpose-built refrigerators deliver the reliability and performance necessary for highly sensitive and complex medical materials, like vaccines – because they were designed for it. Medical workers can operate with confidence, knowing their products are protected.