With COVID-19 vaccines finally becoming available (and possibly more to come) storing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at a stable continuous temperature in your medical-grade refrigerator or freezer is vital. Both must be stored at specific temperatures including some at ultra-low temperatures (-70°C and colder) and for that you will need a refrigerator and/or freezer that meet the qualifications. Along with a vaccine recommended refrigerator & freezer you will also need a properly installed data logger and/or thermometer to track that your unit is consistently keeping the appropriate temperatures to ensure vaccine efficacy.
Regardless of which COVID-19 vaccine you would receive, installing your datalogger/thermometer properly while not compromising the seals or stability of your unit is key. Improper install is typically caused by users running data loggers or thermometers through the door gasket which compromises the stability of their laboratory and/or vaccine cold storage units. Doing this will allow excess air to enter the unit causing temperature fluctuations and it also forces the compressor to work even harder in order to try and keep the internal temperature at its set temperature. This kind of unnecessary strain on the compressor eventually leads to complete failure, potentially jeopardizing thousands of dollars’ worth of vaccines and research samples.
The CDC recommends installing all data loggers or thermometers by running the cords through the designated access ports on the vaccine units. These access ports can be found on all of our Futura and Clinicool© refrigerators and freezers, as well as PHCbi (formerly Panasonic). You can do this yourself, with no technical knowledge, and it’s easier than you might think:
What you need:
- Plumbers’ putty (available at most home improvement and DIY stores)
- A screwdriver, or similar tool
- Begin in front of the unit with the door open. Inside, on the rear wall, remove the white center caps and black O-ring gaskets from the inside of the unit, and then remove these from the outside of the unit (on the back). DON’T throw away the black O-ring gaskets because you will need these later on.
- Using a screwdriver or similar tool force out the silicone caulking that is inside the probe port. You should be able to see clearly through the probe port when you’re finished.
- Take your probe wire and thread it through the black O-ring gasket. Now thread the probe wire through the probe port and to the other side. Next install the black O-ring gasket back into position on the inside of the unit. This protects the wire from sharp edges.
- Thread the probe wire through the second black O-ring gasket on the outside of the unit. Then install that O-ring gasket back into position.
- Using the plumbers’ putty seal both sides of the probe port, preventing airflow through the probe port.
- Place your buffered probe into the most central part of the unit. If you purchased a freezer with evaporator coil shelves, then the probe will need to be isolated from the shelf in some way and not in direct contact with the shelf.
We hope this has been a helpful step-by-step tutorial on how to properly install a data logger or thermometer through a probe access port. For more information on our Medical and Laboratory Refrigerators and Freezers, please click here or contact us today to speak with a cold storage specialist.