Vaccine Temperature Monitoring and Handling Best Practice

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https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/national-vaccine-storage-handling-guidelines-immunization-providers-2015.html

Vaccine temperature monitoring is critical for the protection of the vaccines and maintenance of their reliability. Storage units must have a vaccine temperature monitoring device. The temperature records help the users to determine whether the vaccines are fit to use. Exposure to high temperatures leads to the break down of the vaccines, making them ineffective. 

vaccine temperature monitoring device will help the facilities point out the vaccines that need to be discarded. They help the facilities maintain the appropriate temperatures for the proper storage of the vaccines.

Here are the best vaccine temperature monitoring practices.

1. Use the right vaccine temperature monitoring device

A facility’s choice of temperature monitoring devices will determine how effective their storage will be. While there are so many monitoring devices in the market, not each one of them can work for you. 

Facilities should use CDC recommended vaccine temperature monitoring devices. The devices should have buffered probes to enhance their accuracy. The regular probes are highly sensitive and will show a different temperature reading even if the vaccines’ temperature has not changed. The buffers, which are usually glycol, create thermal stability allowing the device to show accurate readings. 

The devices also should be calibrated and tested to guarantee their reliability. The uncertainty rate of the devices should also lie within the provided limits. Devices with low battery indicator and out of range alert. The low battery indicator will alert the user before the device goes off. The out of range alert will inform the user when to adjust the temperature of the storage unit.

2. Proper placement of the storage unit

To ensure that the vaccines are stored at the ideal temperatures, the storage unit’s placement must be considered. Good circulation of air outside the storage unit will create stability even inside the unit. 

The unit should be stored such that the motor compartment is not blocked. The room should be well ventilated, and the unit should be away from the walls and not so close to the roof. 

3. Temperature ranges of the refrigerator

The refrigerators should have temperatures ranging between 36° F and 46° F, and freezers should maintain -58° F and +5° F. The refrigerators can also be fitted with a thermostat to prevent the fluctuation of the temperatures. 

4. Take a record of daily temperatures

The temperature of vaccine storage units should be monitored daily. Record the minimum and maximum temperature of the storage unit at the beginning of the workday. If you are using an automated vaccine temperature monitoring device, you can preprogram it to record the temperature at your preferred intervals. 

You can have the device sending the records at intervals of 30 seconds to your computer. With detailed records, it is easy to determine how effective the vaccines will be. If you are using a more manual device, set the recording time and reset it after taking the maximum and minimum temperature. 

5. When the temperature is out of range, take action

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https://www.unsdglearn.org/courses/temperature-monitoring-in-the-vaccine-cold-chain/

Act fast if the temperatures are out of range. That is why you recommend using a vaccine temperature monitoring device that can give you alerts when the temperatures are out of range. The best action to take is to notify the health department and record the total amount of time that the temperature has been out of range.

You can also consider reaching out to the storage unit manufacturer in case it is a technical issue. With the out of range duration information, the health department will be in a perfect position to determine if the vaccine has been compromised or what needs to be done to prevent them from breaking down.

6. Store vaccines with their sensitivity to low temperatures in mind

While vaccines like the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine can be frozen, others should not. It is vital to consider the sensitivity of the vaccines to low and high temperatures. This will help you determine the ideal conditions for the vaccine.

7. Monitor the vaccine storage equipment

To ensure that vaccines are viable and protect patients, the vaccine storage equipment needs to be monitored and handled with care. Routine maintenance and inspection of the storage units are critical. This will ensure they are operating optimally at all times and also increase their usable life. 

Ensure that the temperature monitoring devices are calibrated every two years. With time the devices drift, and recalibration ensures that the equipment gives accurate readings. 

The danger of not practicing best vaccine temperature monitoring 

Vaccines are fragile, and facilities need to adhere to the set vaccine handling standards. Failure to effectively use vaccine temperature monitoring devices and other cold chain equipment could lead to:

1. Damage to vaccines

When exposed to extreme conditions, vaccines can be damaged. That could either be too much cold, heat, and even light. This renders the vaccine useless, and when used in the population, it will not prevent the spread of a virus. 

2. Reduced strength

Exceeding the temperature limits for the different types of vaccines can reduce the potency of the vaccines. This means when used in the population, it may not be as effective as it was intended to be. More so, a disease will continue spreading even after people have been vaccinated.

3. Losses

A facility can lose thousands of money if its storage units don’t use TMDs. Damaged vaccines lead to wastage. The development of new vaccines can be a costly affair, and there will also be sunk costs from the lost ones.

When the vaccine is not potent enough, there will also be a need to revaccinate the patients, resulting in extra. Eventually, this leads to the loss of confidence in stakeholders.

Take away

The CDC standards above for vaccine handling are essential to adhere to. Improper handling of vaccines can lead to damages, a reduction in the vaccine’s potency, and loss of confidence in the vaccine. 

The right vaccine temperature monitoring devices must be used. There should be proper placement of the storage unit and regular maintenance of the cold chain devices to ensure optimal functioning.