Proper vaccine storage and handling are essential to your practice. Failure to adhere to the recommended specifications for storage and handling can reduce the potency of the vaccines, resulting in inadequate protection from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Additionally, excessive cold or heat exposure can damage the vaccines, making them useless and costing thousands of dollars in wasted vaccine and revaccinations.
Therefore, vaccines must be stored properly from the time they’re manufactured until they are administered.
In this blog post, we’ll cover frequently asked questions about vaccine storage ranging from temperature considerations to appropriate cold chain solutions.
1. What Are The General Requirements For The Type Of Cold Storage Unit Used To Store Vaccines?
Biomedical refrigerators and laboratory freezers are recommended for vaccine storage. These purpose-built storage units must be capable of maintaining the required temperature range year-round. They should also have enough space to accommodate the largest inventory you might have without crowding.
Pharmaceutical grade standalone storage units can vary in size: under-the counter-style, compact, or large. Automatic defrost cycle and frost-free units are preferred.
Do not store vaccines in bar-style or dormitory-style combined refrigerator/freezer units under any circumstances!
2. What Is The Best Temperature Range For Vaccine Storage?
Vaccines should be stored within the temperature parameters outlined by the manufacturers. The CDC recommends storing refrigerated vaccines at 2–8°C at set point of 5°C. Refrigerated vaccines shouldn’t be exposed to freezing temperatures.
Frozen vaccines, on the other hand, should be stored at a minimum of -50°C.
3. What Kind Of Temperature Monitoring Equipment Is Required?
Every vaccine storage unit should have a temperature monitoring device that provides accurate temperature readings.
CDC recommends the use of storage units that come with continuous monitoring and recording Digital Data Loggers (DDL) with a valid Certificate of Calibration Testing and a minimum recording interval of at least 30 minutes.
Unlike a thermometer that simply shows the maximum and minimum temperatures reached in the unit, DDLs provide detailed information of the temperature recorded at preset levels. Some storage units may use buffered temperature probes to measure actual vaccine temperatures.
CDC recommends the DDLs to have the following characteristics:
- Detachable temperature probe
- Low-battery indicators
- Visual and audible alarms for out-of-range temperatures
- Temperature uniformity of +/-1° F
- Forced-air circulation to maintain chamber uniformity
- Programmable logging intervals
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By investing in proper cold chain equipment and following best storage and handling practices, medical practitioners can ensure that their patients get adequate vaccines.
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