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Choosing Vaccine Fridges

Appropriate Location

The placement of the vaccine refrigerator is very important. There needs to be adequate space around a medical fridge for ventilation. For most vaccine fridges around 30 mm of clearance is required on each side of the fridge. There are however a few models of vaccine fridges that are designed so that no clearance for ventilation is required at all.

It is best to place the refrigerator in an insulated room and not against an outside wall which is subject to hot and cold with changes in weather. The size of the location will also have an influence on what capacity fridge you can fit.

Appropriate Capacity
The vaccine/pharmacy refrigerator needs to have the capacity to store vaccines safely to meet peak demand such as pre-influenza programs. It is important to avoid overpacking as this will impede cold air circulation and put the vaccines at risk. For this reason, it is generally advisable to err on the side of caution and to get a slightly larger vaccine fridge rather than a slightly smaller one. Vaccine and pharmacy fridges fall into three main capacity ranges:

   - Under counter/benchtop vaccine fridges are typically around 130 to 160 litres in capacity.
   - Upright vaccine fridges are typically 350 to 650 litres in capacity.
   - Custom made pharmacy/drug fridges are available in capacities of around 600 litres and above.

Glass Door vs Solid Door
See SKOEP ENLAKE's information page about the relative benefits of Glass Doors vs Solid Doors.

Warranty
Take warranty into account when comparing prices. For example ENLAKE sells Nuline vaccine fridges with 12 months warranty and ICS Pacific with 3 years warranty.

External Alarm
If you are planning to connect your vaccine fridge to your business's alarm system make sure that the vaccine fridge will allow you to do that. ICS Pacific fridges come ready-wired to be connected to an external alarm. A Nuline fridge must be optioned for an external alarm. Terms often used to describe this include: Voltage Free Contacts, Dry Contact, Normally Open/Normally Closed Connection.

Data Loggers
Consider purchasing a data logger at the same time that you purchase a vaccine fridge. Data Loggers record temperature readings at set intervals by electronic means. The stored data can then be downloaded to a computer. Data loggers may be used for audits and to establish the recording patterns of your vaccine fridge over time. They can be especially handy for determining whether a fridge that has exceeded 8 degrees Celsius has done so for less than the critical 15 minutes that are permissible.

Alarm Notification
Some fridges are now available with systems that can send out alerts by SMS or email if the temperature inside the fridge goes out of the desired range. ENLAKE also has temperature monitoring solutions which may be used with existing vaccine or laboratory fridges.

QCCP Approval
Ask if the vaccine fridge has Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCCP) approval. Some businesses are selling fridges that don't meet QCCP requirements.