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Medical and Vaccine Fridges

Read the guide to learn the key factors that need to be considered when choosing a vaccine fridge.

Understanding the role of vaccine fridges in healthcare settings

Vaccines and medications are sensitive to excessive heat and freezing. If exposed to conditions outside the recommended temperature range, vaccines can become inactive, and medications may lose their potency.


Australian’s national vaccine guidelines, known as Strive for 5, provide information and advice around vaccine storage management. It emphasises the importance of maintaining vaccines at a constant temperature of +5°C, or at the very least, within the recommended range of between +2°C and +8°C.



Key points from Strive for 5

  • Only using purpose-built vaccine fridges for vaccine storage.
  • Storing vaccines in the original packaging until required.
  • Never freezing vaccines.
  • Discarding any vaccine products that have been exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range of between +2°C and +8°C.




The Importance of Selecting the Right Vaccine Fridge

For healthcare providers responsible for storing temperature-sensitive vaccines and medications, selecting the right storage fridge is critically important. The stakes are high, and understanding the factors to consider is essential. We’ve put together this article to provide you with the best practices and key considerations you need to be aware of to make an informed decision in the selection process.






Storage Capacity and Space Considerations

The first step in choosing a vaccine or pharmacy fridge is ensuring it has the right storage capacity. You need enough space to store all the vaccines safely. Additionally, the fridge should fit well in the available space, allowing sufficient clearance for its optimal performance.




Storage Capacity

An overcrowded vaccine fridge can spell disaster for the integrity of its contents. So, before deciding on a unit to purchase, consider the number of different vaccines it needs to store.


Below we’ve compiled some best practices for vaccine storage that will guide you in determining the amount of fridge space you’ll need:


  • Allow sufficient space (at least 30mm) around each vaccine for even airflow circulation to eliminate potential hot or cold spots.
  • Place products in the centre of the shelf and ensure they are distributed evenly. You may like to use perforated baskets to permit efficient air circulation.
  • Never stack containers or load the fridge to excess. This obstructs cold air circulation and decreases the fridge’s ability to keep temperatures stable throughout.
  • 300ml bottles of drinking water can be stored in unused space in vaccine fridges to increase cold mass, which helps to prevent temperature fluctuations such as from opening the door repeatedly. Chill the bottles in another fridge first before placing them in the vaccine fridge.




A close up of the inside of a medical fridge with the data logger placed in between injection boxes and water bottles.




Space Considerations for your Vaccine Fridge’s best performance

Carefully consider the site where the vaccine fridge will be positioned – giving some thought to its placement can make all the difference in its performance and longevity.




For the best results, make sure to allow sufficient space on all sides of your vaccine fridge to encourage free airflow. There must be at least 150mm clearance around the back and sides of the fridge to provide enough room for the unit to take in cool air and disperse warm air.



An image of the back of a medical fridge with an diagram saying "allow a least 150mm of clearance."



Optimal Placement

Also, for your vaccine fridge’s best performance, make sure to position the fridge on a flat, level surface. Avoid placing it near heat sources like heat-emitting lighting, radiators, or room heaters. Direct sunlight is a no-go for the fridge’s location. Also, be mindful not to position it in doorways or draughty spaces. And last but not least, ensure there’s enough room for the fridge door to swing open without any obstructions.




Vaccine fridge features and functionality

When it comes to storing your sensitive vaccines, standard fridges won’t cut it. Vaccine fridges are purpose-built units with essential features to ensure compliance and a safe storage environment.


Key features like temperature monitoring, alarm systems, and more play a crucial role in maintaining the efficacy of your vaccines. Let’s dive into the details of these essential features and explore what else you should consider when it comes to vaccine fridge functionalities.




Temperature monitoring and Data Logging

A crucial aspect of a vaccine fridge is the minimum/maximum temperature recording feature, which allows you to track temperature fluctuations and provides data for regulatory compliance and quality assurance.


Bromic’s vaccine fridges use a two-point system of inbuilt digital temperature controller, with hi/low logging and an external data logger for continuous recording.  The data logger has a memory capacity for up to 16,000 readings, which can be easily downloaded and analysed on your computer.



Alarm System

Equally important is for the vaccine fridge to have an alarm system that ensures items are not inadvertently exposed to temperatures outside of the +2°C and +8°C range.


With Bromic’s MediFridges, you can have peace of mind, as each unit is equipped with a BMS (Building Management System) dry contact point that integrates with your building monitoring system and will inform you if the temperature goes outside the safe range. This feature is especially helpful for large institutions like hospitals, aged care facilities, or laboratories.  The MediFridges are also equipped with an audible alarm for localised issue notification for example when the door is left open for too long.



Other Features

  • Adjustable shelving in vaccine fridges offers several benefits to keep your vaccines well-organised. It allows you to store vaccines in a way that maximises visibility, making them easier to find. Also, it improves vaccine access, eliminating the hassle of rummaging through piles of vaccines. And lastly, it ensures more efficient vaccine inventory management, so you always have the right stocks on hand.
  • Door lock on vaccine fridges keeps your vaccines secure by preventing unauthorised access.
  • The internal LED light makes it easy to locate and identify your vaccines, even in dimly lit environments.
  • Castors and adjustable legs make it easy to position your vaccine fridge exactly where you need it.




Regulatory compliance and accreditation

When buying a vaccine fridge in Australia, regulatory compliance and accreditation are critical factors to keep in mind. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) sets specific requirements that must be met.


The fridge must be able to maintain a constant temperature between +2°C and +8°C. It also must be equipped with a temperature alarm that will sound if the temperature inside the fridge goes outside the acceptable range.


To meet regulatory standards, the vaccine or medication fridge must be labeled with the model number and serial number, and the manufacturer’s name and contact information.



Importance of Compliance

If a vaccine fridge is not compliant with the regulatory requirements, it may not be used to store vaccines as it could result in the vaccines becoming ineffective or even dangerous.


Immunisation service providers must conduct a self-audit at least once every twelve months. Here is a useful checklist from the Australian Government Department of Health.


An excellent example of what’s involved in cold chain management and vaccine storage can be found in this CESPHN document for NSW healthcare providers.




QCPP-Compliant Medication Fridges

For healthcare providers looking for a QCPP-compliant medication fridges, a list of approved options is available here: QCPP-compliant medication fridges.


Reliability and after-sales support

Just like with any other commercial equipment, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s warranty terms for your medical fridge.


When you buy a Bromic MediFridge, it comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s Extra Care warranty service, offering added peace of mind. Thanks to our knowledgeable service team, most issues can be resolved with just one call. If further support is needed, our nationwide coverage ensures a technician can be onsite within as little as four hours.