Laboratories, pharmacies, and other medical facilities have a responsibility to provide safe, valuable medications to the world. Proper vaccine storage plays a major role in this responsibility. Medical professionals must follow best practices to maintain the vaccines’ quality and effectiveness. To help your facility remain a reliable and helpful resource for your patients, follow these tips for safely storing vaccines in your medical facility.
Set Clear Rules and Expectations
All medical facilities should have detailed, written guidelines regarding the handling and storage of vaccines. Make a plan for both routine and emergency situations. Keep these guidelines up-to-date and easily accessible so everyone is always on the same page regarding best practices. Your routine plan should cover ordering vaccines, managing inventory, and handling deliveries and storage. You should also set up procedures for handling and disposing of ruined or potentially ruined vaccines. Your emergency guidelines should focus on how to retrieve and salvage vaccines in the case of a mishap or complication, such as a power outage. Set aside a backup storage unit as well as the materials and resources you need to safely transport vaccines from one location to another.
Maintain Reliable Storage Units
Because maintaining proper temperature control is one of the most important tips for safely storing vaccines in your medical facility, you need to have reliable cold storage units. In addition to purchasing high-quality units in the first place, it’s important that you maintain your laboratory refrigerators and freezers well. Keep both the interiors and exteriors clean to help ensure the units remain as effective as possible. You should also stay on top of your inventory and keep the interior of each unit well organized. When you take care of your lab fridges and freezers, you create a safer place for your vaccines and all other temperature-sensitive materials that come through your lab.
The Consequences of Vaccine Storage Mistakes
Between equipment malfunctions and human error, mistakes are bound to happen. However, when it comes to vaccines, those mistakes can cost a lot of money and resources. The most common vaccine storage mistake occurs when a facility stores a vaccine at the incorrect temperature. This can cause the vaccine to lose its potency and become ineffective. Furthermore, the loss of vaccines—from a lack of temperature regulation or other form of mishandling—can cost thousands of dollars in products and materials. Mistakes like these also work to generate mistrust and misunderstandings between medical facilities and their patients.