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VACCINE STORAGE
HANDLING

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Vaccine storage & handling for ultra-low freezers

Partnerships and experience invent best practice recommendations for how to use ULT freezers for COVID-19 vaccine vial storage.

Read about COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Successes here >  Read about Vaccine Cold Chain Storage here > 

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.

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.

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Stirling Ultracold recommends ULT rack system to simplify and maximize vaccine vial storage

Stirling Ultracold continues to supply ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers around the world for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.  From small, portable freezers used at the point-of-inoculation to large, upright freezers at centralized storage hubs, custom racks organize vial inventory and simplify vaccine administration. Stirling Ultracold has partnered with Custom Biogenic Systems to design racks specific to the COVID-19 vaccine cause.

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ult racks

What is a ULT freezer rack?

Racks are storage inventory systems used inside ULT freezers to simplify and organize biologic samples or medicine vials.  Racks consist of a series of drawers and/or stainless-steel shelf supports to section off parts of the freezer and efficiently categorize the materials within the freezer. 

How does a ULT freezer rack simplify vaccine administration?

Custom racking systems designed for COVID-19 vaccine distribution are essential for storing and organizing vaccine vials, but also serve double-function as being tools necessary to transfer vaccine vials to the freezer.

The rack shelves hold vial drawers.  Each vial drawer has a removable lip.  Once removed, the drawer can be used as a scoop to retrieve the vials from the original shipping container.  Once the lip is replaced, the entire drawer is then put back into the shelving unit, protected and optimized for adding storage space.

ult racks

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Stirling Ultracold recommends ULT rack systems to maximize storage

Not only does the use of a custom rack simplify vaccine vial transfer from the shipping container to the freezer, it also reorganizes the vial bundle to better fit freezer dimensions – allowing for higher volume storage and optimized freezer space.  A small vial takes up much less volume than the box it was shipped in – remove the box, increase the number of vials to fit in the freezer – it is that simple.       

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Pfizer vaccine storage, handling and ULT freezer use

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are being distributed in bundles of “pizza boxes”, containing 195 vials each.  For upright freezers and undercounter freezers, the pizza boxes can directly stack inside.  This is great news for central repositories and hubs that may be managing the regional ebb and flow of demand, but not optimal for last mile, point-of-administration use because the entire pizza box must be removed each time a vial is removed – exposing all vials to ambient temperatures to remove one vial.

ult25neu freezer

Pfizer Vaccine – Portable ULT25NEU Freezer

For the portable ULT25NEU freezer, the Pfizer pizza box must be turned on its side to fit inside the freezer.  Stirling Ultracold does not recommend this due to the added risk placed on the glass vials once a few have been removed, and they are no longer tightly packed.

For last-mile, point-of-inoculation storage in ULT25NEU freezers, racks help maximize storage space, organize and protect the delicate vials and act as the tool to transfer the vials from their shipment packaging to the freezer. 

For the ULT25NEU freezer, Stirling Ultracold recommends the ULT25-R1T7-Kit rack for storing Pfizer vaccines.

SU105UE freezer

Pfizer Vaccine – Undercounter SU105UE Freezer

SU105UE racks also help maximize storage space for last-mile, point-of-inoculation storage in our undercounter model, organizing and protecting the delicate vials and acting as the tool to transfer the vials from their shipment packaging to the freezer.

For the SU105UE freezer, Stirling Ultracold recommends the SU105-R6T30-Kit rack for storing Pfizer vaccines.

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Moderna vaccine storage, handling and ULT freezer use

The Moderna vaccine vials hold 10 doses of vaccine and are a little larger than the Pfizer vaccine vial.  The Moderna vials ship in groups of 10, in packaging designed specifically for this vaccination effort.  If storing the vaccines for longer than 30 days, they must be placed in a freezer between -15°C to -25°C. 

For the portable ULT25NEU freezer, racks are not recommended.  The shipping boxes fit easily into the small portable freezer and stack nicely, removing only 10 vials at a time for administration. 

For the undercounter SU105UE freezers, Stirling Ultracold recommends 6 of the DR-342 racks to maximize freezer space and limit administrative thawing to only the vials that will be used.  This eliminates any vaccine waste.

For the upright SU780XLE freezers, mostly used at central repository hubs, Stirling Ultracold recommends the 780-DKIT3 rack system. 

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PORTABLE
ULT25NEU

portable freezer

PFIZER VACCINE WITHOUT CUSTOM RACKING

Not recommended –
requires vial storage on side

PFIZER VACCINE WITH CUSTOM RACKING

8,400 doses
1,400 vials
7 pizza boxes
14 bundles

MODERNA VACCINE STORAGE SUGGESTION

5,400 doses
540 vials
54 boxes
No racking required

UNDERCOUNTER
SU105UE

undercounter range

PFIZER VACCINE WITHOUT CUSTOM RACKING

11,700 doses
1,950 vials
10 boxes
2 bundles

PFIZER VACCINE WITH CUSTOM RACKING

36,000 doses
6,000 vials
30 pizza boxes
6 bundles

MODERNA VACCINE STORAGE SUGGESTION

10,800 doses
1,080 vials
108 boxes
6 x DR-342 racks hold 18 boxes

UPRIGHT
SU780XLE

upright range

PFIZER VACCINE WITHOUT CUSTOM RACKING

348,000+ doses
58,000+ vials
300+ boxes
60+ bundles

PFIZER VACCINE WITH CUSTOM RACKING

No custom racking required

MODERNA VACCINE STORAGE SUGGESTION

156,00 doses
15,600 vials
1,560 boxes
1 x 780 DKIT3 rack holds 52 boxes per rack, 5 racks per row, 6 rows

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Learn best practices from these vaccine distribution success stories

Puerto Rico National Guard

North Carolina Policy Collaboratory

Walgreens