Vaccines are a wonder of the modern world. Many children never have to suffer childhood diseases that were once considered a rite of passage.
But vaccines are extremely delicate. In order to remain viable and effective, they must be properly stored.
The guidelines for this involved storing vaccines at a certain temperature, proper transport procedures, and the use of equipment such as data loggers to ensure that the guidelines are met.
Let’s take a closer look.
Why Is Proper Vaccine Storage Important?
To remain viable, vaccines must be stored at a certain temperature. The ideal temperature is 5 degrees Celsius. However, there is a small window between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius that is acceptable.
This is part of what makes it difficult to transport and administer vaccines in rural areas and especially in developing countries. However, even in the U.S., this is a problem. The U.S. Federal Vaccines for Children Program wastes about $20 billion dollars each year in ruined vaccines.
Not all vaccines react to temperature in the same way. Depending on certain factors, such as whether the vaccine is live or not or whether the preparation is liquid or lyophilized, the vaccine will react differently.
However, all vaccines react adversely if they’re not kept in the ideal temperature range. Some just take longer to lose their potency than others.
Vaccines have to maintain the correct temperature throughout the entire process. This starts with the vaccine manufacturer, includes any distributors, and ends with the healthcare provider who will administer the vaccine.
Not maintaining the correct temperature at any stage of the process can reduce the vaccine’s potency and shelf life.
Thus, the CDC has a set of guidelines on how to properly store all vaccines. Following these guidelines can greatly reduce the necessity of destroying ruined vaccines or having to vaccinate people that received an impotent dose a second time.
What Are the Guidelines?
Any facility that will store vaccines must have reliable refrigeration capabilities. Each refrigeration unit must have a properly calibrated device for measuring and monitoring temperature.
The facility is also required to have a routine plan. This plan should include protocols for all routine activities such as:
- Receiving deliveries
- Handling procedures
- Managing the inventory
- What to do with potentially compromised vaccines
In addition to routine procedures, facilities are required to have an emergency backup plan. This plan should not only include the steps to take in the event of an emergency, but also there should be various plans to deal with different types of emergencies.
There should be back up power to the refrigeration units. But if you’re going to have to transport the vaccines, the necessary packing materials and transportation equipment should be on hand at all times.
All staff must be trained in the handling and storage of vaccines. Something as simple as leaving a vaccine on the counter between uses can compromise the potency of the vaccine.
Every facility should have one vaccine coordinator who’s responsible for ensuring that the protocols are followed to the letter. There should also be one backup vaccine coordinator in the event that the primary is not available.
What Are Vaccine Data Loggers?
All right. Now, let’s talk about the role of vaccine data loggers.
This is a vital piece of equipment for ensuring that the vaccines are kept at the proper temperature at all times. Data loggers are so important that the CDC includes them in their guidelines for recommended equipment.
You can set your refrigerator to a certain temperature and hope that it always maintains that temperature. Though modern refrigeration devices are fairly reliable, the delicate nature of vaccines requires extra precautions.
That’s where the data logger comes in. This device consists of an equipment body connected to a probe by very thin wire.
Proper use of the data logger includes placing the probe in a liquid-filled bottle inside the refrigeration unit. Since the wire connecting the probe to the equipment body must come through the door, it has to be thin enough not to affect the seal of the refrigerator.
Using this device, you can monitor the temperature inside the refrigeration unit at all times. Regulations require that this data is kept for at least three years. Most data loggers provide the option to keep an electronic log to meet this requirement.
Additionally, the CDC requires that the data logger gets checked manually twice a day.
For an extra layer of protection, you can set up your data logger to send an alert to your phone or other internet enabled device if there is any change in temperature. Ideally, this alert should go to several people to better ensure that the proper steps will be taken immediately if something goes wrong with the refrigeration unit.
Data Logger Feature List
There are several features that the CDC recommends you look for in a good data logger. These include:
- An auditory alarm
- A low battery indicator
- Be calibrated to an accuracy of .5 degrees Celsius (certified with a Certificate of Traceability and Calibration)
- A logging interval of 10 minutes or less that you can program
- Data storage for one month or 4,000 intervals
- Data loops if the memory is full (you’re responsible to free up the memory on time)
All these features help to ensure that your data logger is accurate and that your vaccines stay safe and viable.
Where to Get a Good Data Logger
Data loggers are crucial for the safety and viability of your vaccines. Thus, you don’t want to purchase just any old data logger and slap it on your refrigeration unit.
You want to get your data logger from a reputable, trusted source like us! Feel free to contact us today to learn more about data loggers, calibration services or anything else related. We’re happy to help!