Customizing ultra-low temperature (ULT) solution design has become a consulting role for many of the individuals working at Stirling Ultracold. Dependent on sample size, shipment quantities and the ebb and flow demand of biologic medicine production, custom racks can be used to maximize storage space but also simplify sample/vial handling when long term, ULT protection is required.

freezer vaccine storage capacity

The table above outlines the different custom racking variations available for Stirling’s three freezer models: Portable (ULT25NEU), Undercounter (SU105UE) and Upright (SU780XLE), summarizing the trade-off for each.

What is a rack?

Racks are organized, filing systems used inside ULT freezers to simplify and categorize long-term storage of biologic product. They often consist of a series of drawers and/or stainless-steel shelf supports to section off parts of the freezer and efficiently organize the precious materials inside.

Are racks required?

Unfortunately, this is not an easy YES/NO answer and the decision ultimately comes down to point-of-use questions including: Which freezer type is being used? Which vaccine(s) will be received? Is the freezer being used to physically transport the vaccine from one location to another? How often will new batches of vaccine be delivered? And finally, how many patients are expected to receive injections in a single day?

If adding a custom racking solution to your freezer makes the answers to any of those questions easier on the individual managing the ULT storage process and administering the vaccine, it will be worth its weight in gold!

Upright SU780XLE freezer
If using an upright freezer model, it is likely your location is acting as a central repository for storage before the vaccine travels to the clinic for administration. In this case, the Pfizer vaccines will NOT require racking because the ‘Pizza Box’ can be loaded directly into the freezer. The Moderna vaccine can go either way – the shipping boxes can simply be loaded into the freezer OR loaded into a racking system to organize vaccine boxes and prevent tips and spills when removing boxes from the freezer.

Undercounter SU105UE freezer
If you are using the undercounter model in a pharmacy, for example, adding racks to your freezer will be your best bet. 10 Pfizer pizza boxes can be stored in the freezer on its own – but with a rack, that number jumps to 30 Pfizer pizza boxes! For Moderna vaccines, racking stabilizes the stacking and prevents tips and spills when removing boxes from the freezer, like the upright freezer racks. Additionally, using racks eliminates the need for dry ice, extends the vaccine shelf life and simplifies the process of pulling out small batches for administration. It makes handling the vaccines simpler and protects future batches of vaccines from thaw when removing the batch of vaccines ready to be administered. Watch this video to see how easy it is for the drug administrator to load and unload entire drawers of vaccines in our undercounter model:

Portable ULT25NEU freezer
If you are using the portable freezer to transport and/or store Pfizer vaccines – make your life simpler and purchase a rack! Five pizza boxes will fit in the portable model, on their side – but seven pizza boxes will fit, if deploying a rack! Using a rack also eliminates the need for dry ice for transportation, extends the vaccine shelf life, protects the vaccines from breakage during transportation (especially if the pizza boxes are no longer full) and allows the user to limit ambient exposure to vaccines when starting the thaw process. Watch this video to see how easy it is for the drug administrator to load and unload entire drawers of vaccines in our portable model:

If you are using the portable freezer to transport and/or store Moderna vaccines – racking is NOT suggested and really will not add a lot of benefit to the administration process, as the smaller bundles of vaccine do the batching for you.

If you have questions about racks for new or previously purchased Stirling freezers, please reach out to our sales team at [email protected], or…

Click here to explore undercounter and portable ULT freezer/rack configurations for long-term protection of COVID-19 vaccines.