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Protect Every Dose: 5 Considerations for Backing Up the Freezers that Will Store the First COVID-19 Vaccines

Gary Dennis •

According to the World Health Organization, as many as 50% of vaccines go to waste each year because of improper handling, including temperature control problems. With the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna requiring storage at extremely low temperatures, addressing this issue is more critical than ever before.

The first round of COVID-19 vaccines have started to be distributed, so healthcare organizations need to act now to ensure they are ready to receive and administer these potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals. Already, hospitals are purchasing ultra-cold freezers designed to hold the vaccines at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius.

However, they may be overlooking key components of their solution: power conditioning and emergency backup power for this critical equipment. In order to consistently maintain such low temperatures, the freezers consume a great deal of power. Should the power source be compromised for any reason, it puts the limited supply of vaccines at risk, something that could be disastrous at this critical juncture in the fight against the coronavirus.

Choosing the Right Emergency Backup Power

Given the high stakes, an emergency backup power for the low-temperature freezers must be a part of the solution at each location where the vaccines will be stored. Ideally, that solution will include an intelligent Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that meets the following five criteria:

  1. Online Double Conversion Technology: There are three major types of UPS system configurations: offline, line-interactive, and online double conversion. For the most mission-critical applications, an online double conversion UPS solution offers the greatest degree of protection. With this type of UPS, your ultra-low temperature freezers will be fully isolated from raw utility power, protecting the freezers from power sags, surges, blackouts, or brownouts that could compromise their ability to keep the vaccines inside at the right temperature.
  2. Zero Transfer Time to Batteries: Even in applications that use a generator, there is transfer time involved in switching from the main power source to the backup generator. During that lag, freezer operation can be negatively impacted, jeopardizing the contents inside. A double conversion UPS fills the transfer time gap with battery power until the generator kicks in. For premium protection, the UPS should transfer to battery backup power instantaneously, ensuring a truly uninterruptible supply of power and a constant holding temperature for the vaccines.

  3. Scalable Runtime: Sometimes a generator isn’t available or contingency planning for critical systems requires hours of battery runtime instead of just minutes. In these cases, a UPS model that can detect and connect with external battery cabinets for access to additional battery power can offer this level of support.

  4. UPS Remote Monitoring Capabilities: It’s important to know that the UPS is always functioning as intended and doing its job around the clock. Facilities personnel also need to know the UPS batteries are fully charged and ready to discharge if and when they are needed. An intelligent UPS enables monitoring both remotely and locally, helping personnel manage battery health and proactively predict battery replacement dates. Alarm notifications delivered via both email and text keep staff informed of any power issues and expedite response time if there is ever a problem with the units.

  5. Easy Installation and Operation: With so much on the plates of healthcare operations right now, a UPS cannot add more complexity to the equation. A plug-and-play system that is quick to install and configure and that can support multiple freezers ensures your emergency backup power remains a help instead of a hindrance. A compact, flexible form factor that can be mounted on the floor or wall further streamlines installation and takes up minimal space. Finally, a user-friendly, easy-to-read interface for system insights and diagnosis helps simplify ongoing system operation and maintenance.

Be Ready to Give Your COVID-19 Vaccines the Protection They Deserve

The new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines represent much-needed hope for the battle against the coronavirus. Ultra-low temperature freezers, along with the online-double conversion UPS systems that back them up, will play key roles in each healthcare facility’s efforts to ensure every dose is put to good use. At Vertiv, we’re proud to offer a full in-stock selection of the Liebert® GXT5 UPS series, which checks all of the boxes above. Contact your local rep today to learn more about how GXT5 can help in your vaccine protection solution.

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