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NSF Vaccine Units vs. Pharmacy Models: What’s the Difference?

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 The Standard for Vaccine Storage: NSF/ANSI 456

A common question we get asked is—what’s the difference between an NSF/ANSI 456 certified vaccine refrigerator and a normal pharmacy fridge? Great question. To answer it, we need to outline exactly what the NSF/ANSI 456 standard is, how it affects cold storage equipment, and ultimately why it matters.


What is NSF/ANSI 456?

The NSF/ANSI 456 vaccine storage standard was launched by NSF International to improve performance and construction requirements for vaccine refrigerators and freezers. This standard involves testing and analyzing vaccine storage equipment, and making sure units perform at a highly safe and effective level. All well and good, but how do NSF units differ from pharmacy models? Let’s start with the biggest difference below.


Performance Differences

The biggest difference between an NSF unit and a pharmacy model is performance. The certification procedures required for NSF/ANSI 456 involve rigorous testing—far beyond the requirements for a normal pharmacy refrigerator. What does that mean to you? It means you can fully trust the temperature control, stability, and uniformity—even if your refrigerators are heavily packed or your processes require frequent door openings.

NSF/ANSI 456 vaccine units require premium temperature controllers and forced draft air circulation to protect vaccines and pharmaceuticals against daily use. Many pharmacy refrigerators don’t have these benefits, and as a result can allow damaged vaccines, lost money, and waste.


Construction Differences

NSF/ANSI 456 vaccine units are also different from pharmacy units in their physical construction. Along with higher quality controllers and materials, vaccine certified units are constructed with an internal plenum for superior air distribution.

To put it simply—plenum air distribution equalizes temperature throughout the cooling chamber. Many pharmacy refrigerators are still subject to subtle temperature differences within the chamber because they don’t include this construction technology.


Trust and Reliability Differences

Lastly, NSF/ANSI 456 units provide greater trust and promise greater reliability. These specialized units provide the highest level of temperature consistency, construction, and unit features to protect vaccines and sensitive substances to the highest degree. All NSF/ANSI 456 models are tested and certified by a 3rd party lab to ensure quality and performance. Pharmacy units don’t have this level of quality assurance.


Wrapping Up

As vaccine storage needs continue to develop and evolve, we encourage you to explore ABS NSF/ANSI 456 products. Bring the latest technology into your healthcare environment and ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines you rely on.




ABS proudly supplies NSF/ANSI 456 vaccine storage equipment with trusted features that are built to last. Explore today. ABS | American Biotech Supply

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