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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota — The fight against the flu in Chicago has a new weapon – the Greenbox Thermal Management System.Despite ill-conceived perceptions that the threat of serious illness from the H1N1 influenza strain has passed, the Chicago Public Health Department is continuing to vaccinate thousands of Chicagoans at clinics and other locations around the city. The massive public vaccination effort began in September, when the first quantities of vaccine were made available to public health officials.
“Most of the places we’re using as vaccination sites, such as community colleges, don’t have on-site drug refrigeration like a hospital or clinic setting,” said Suzet McKinney, deputy commissioner of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response for the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We needed a way to transport and store the vaccine at a specific temperature, without refrigeration, and the Greenbox was an ideal solution.”
Greenbox Thermal Management System is a first-of-its-kind 100 percent sustainable temperature-controlled shipper capable of keeping contents at a consistent temperature for more than five days. Designed for the biologic, pharmaceutical and blood industries, Greenbox addresses the costly issue of product spoilage, while helping companies save up to 65 percent on shipping and distribution costs. Additionally, the Greenbox shipping system’s robust construction allows customers to reuse the system more than 50 times before requiring replacement.
While traditional temperature-sensitive shipping methods involve cardboard boxes, EPS (plastic foam) and gel packs or dry ice, the Greenbox system is constructed of a durable plastic outer shell; Thermal-Lok insulation panels, which protect temperature-sensitive goods from external weather conditions; and PureTemp renewable phase change material, which acts as an “internal thermostat” by absorbing and releasing heat, which keeps the payload at a consistent temperature for the duration of its shipment.
“At the beginning of the H1N1 crisis, the Chicago Public Health Department was gearing up its emergency response program, and was all set to use Styrofoam containers with gel-packs to preserve the vaccine temperature,” said Wayne Williams, representative for Coldchain Technology Services, a Texas-based cold-chain management contractor and Greenbox supplier. “Now, they can make hundreds of thousands of shipments using 100 of our Greenbox units, and they have experienced zero vaccine spoilage since their clinics began in September.”
Packing and preparation are easier with Greenbox, too, when compared to old methods. Gelpacks and ice don’t stay frozen during the packing process, so public health workers often scramble to get vaccines packaged just hours or minutes before transport. Now, they can pack vaccines the night before delivery, and workers don’t have to rush to get the vaccine refrigerated once it’s delivered.
“Greenbox allowed Chicago Public Health to run this vaccination program without a ton of labor costs, since they didn’t need staff to pack and ship boxes as quickly as they had in the past,” said Williams. “There’s also a significant environmental savings, as the old Styrofoam packaging would have become worn out quickly and discarded. Greenbox is a valuable asset for protecting vaccines from spoilage, while delivering process efficiencies for Chicago Public Health.”
“Since the federal government purchased the H1N1 vaccine, it is incumbent upon local authorities like us to maintain the integrity of the product and be accountable for where it’s sent,” Dr. McKinney said. “Greenbox gives us confidence we can deliver the maximum amount of vaccine to people who need it most, without wasteful packaging, spoilage or an over-complicated process.”About Entropy Solutions Inc.