Use Lab Refrigerators and Lab Freezers to Avoid Vaccine SpoilageApril 15th, 2011
According to recent reports, of the billions of dollars of vaccines shipped annually to healthcare providers, tens of millions of dollars worth are lost due to improper storage. These substantial losses occur because of a failure to maintain the critical “cold chain” that originates at the point of manufacture and ends just prior to vaccine administration by healthcare providers. Laboratory refrigerators and laboratory freezers are vital links in the cold chain.
Correct Refrigeration is Crucial
Vaccine manufacturers provide explicit instructions on correct storage temperatures – either refrigeration or freezing – essential to safeguard the potency of their products. It is the responsibility of healthcare provider organizations – from clinics to hospitals – to ensure these temperatures are maintained. Laboratory refrigerators and laboratory freezers are the answer. Equipment such as the microprocessor-controlled Nor-Lake Premier line scientific refrigerators and scientific freezers available from Tovatech are especially designed for vaccine storage. Refrigerators can be set from 2 to 10˚C (36 to 50˚F) and freezers from -10 to – 25˚C (14 to -13˚F). Visual and audible alarms alert when temperatures fall outside specifications. For these and other reasons household and dormitory refrigerators and freezers are not a satisfactory substitution.
Trained Personnel the Key
No matter the quality of the lab refrigerator or lab freezer trained personnel are essential to protect valuable vaccines from damage. Procedures should be established and adhered to on a daily basis. Here are some recommendations:
- Establish management procedures by assigning a minimum of two trained personnel to monitor vaccine storage operations.
- Instruct all personnel on correct storage procedures.
- NO food or beverages should be stored in this equipment.
- Establish inventories consistent with vaccine use in your facility. Pay attention to expiration dates.
- Check storage temperature recommendations for every shipment of vaccine received.
- Assign personnel for every shift to log temperature readings at the beginning and end of the shift. Maintain the records for three years.
- Have a backup plan in the event of a unit malfunction or power outage.
- Have a plan in place to properly dispose of expired or spoiled vaccines.
In summary, these are some of the salient points in mounting an effective program to avoid vaccine spoilage. Correct equipment, correct equipment maintenance and personnel training help ensure that costly vaccines are protected, money is saved and the costs of re-vaccination are avoided.
Contact the specialists at Tovatech for information on the many options available for your vaccine storage needs.
What experience has your healthcare facility had due to improperly stored vaccines? Please share your procedures to help minimize losses.
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