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Your COVID-19 Vaccine Crash Course! Which Vaccine Will Your Workplace Work With?

| PRODUCT | Feb. 1, 2021 |

Different vaccine technologies require different storage temperatures. The largest volume of existing vaccines require refrigerators, not freezers. This includes vaccines for things like hepatitis and the seasonal flu, which can be stored between 2°C and 8°C. The same goes for the HPV vaccine, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, meningococcal vaccines, and the list goes on.

Others require low-temperature storage, in freezers that can operate between 0°C and -40°C, like Yamato’s reliable LTF series. The MMRV vaccine, for example, must be stored between -25°C and -50°C, as does the zoster shingles vaccine.

Ultra low-temperature freezers are most commonly used for storing invaluable samples, like stem cells, cancer cells or organ tissue. The Ebola vaccine requires ultra low-temperature storage. They can reach temperatures from -40°C and -85°C.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna can be stored in a freezer with a stable temperature of -20°C (a low-temperature vaccine freezer).

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech can be stored in a freezer with a stable temperature of -70°C (an ultra low-temperature vaccine freezer).

Want to be absolutely certain the low or ultra-low temperature freezer you buy has the security features and temperature stability you need for vaccine storage?
Get that confidence in our free guide: The Expanding Cold Chain – Low and ultra-low temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccines and future pandemics.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ships in a purpose-designed thermal shipper. Once your facility receives a thermal shipper, and if you plan to keep doses stored in the shipper, the dry ice must be replaced after the first 24 hours and again every five days. You’re urged to open the box a maximum of two times daily, ideally fewer. The vaccines can not stay in the thermal shipper for more than 15 days.

Once you add your diluent to this vaccine, the solution is good for only six hours, so a daily preparation routine must be built into your work day, and good planning for how much vaccine is needed that day.

Both vaccines must be given in two doses, with different timing between each dose. The Moderna vaccine requires 28 days between doses, while the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires 21 days between doses.

Once Moderna’s vaccine is thawed in preparation for injection, it can be kept in a refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C for up to 30 days. Once Pfizer’s vaccine is transferred to a refrigerator, it must be administered within five days.

Given the urgency of the current vaccination program across the US, it is unlikely that many vaccine doses, once delivered to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, or other health agencies, will sit in cold storage for several months. This means for most locations, an upright low or ultra low-temperature freezer is going to be the preferred choice.

Upright freezers store large quantities of materials that still require easy, ongoing access. Multiple levels of configurable storage make it easy to organize, track, and access your samples. Features like interior doors mean most vaccine vials aren’t exposed to temperature fluctuations when the main exterior door is opened – limiting the possibility of vaccine spoilage associated with repeated warming and cooling.

*Note: If your location expects to receive a large shipment of doses, it’s worth considering a two-tiered approach to vaccine storage. One (or more) chest freezer(s) where vials may be stored for several weeks while doses stored in your upright freezer are expended. The chest freezer will maintain even greater temperature stability over the medium to long-term and give the vaccines stored within a more hospitable environment. Also, if you are new to this type of cold storage, you will likely need to defrost your freezer annually (details later in this document), and preservation of your samples during defrosting requires multiple freezers. Planning for this eventuality now will save you a headache later.

Want to be absolutely certain the low or ultra-low temperature freezer you buy has the security features and temperature stability you need for vaccine storage?
Get that confidence in our free guide: The Expanding Cold Chain – Low and ultra-low temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccines and future pandemics.