You should store vaccines in the right temperature environment to preserve their effectiveness. And that is why they need refrigeration. Know more.
Vaccines are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. If, by any chance, you store vaccines in a temperature range that is against the specifications of the manufacturer, then you will get a bad result. The stock is likely to be damaged and thus become unfit for use.
It is not only about storing vaccines in a medical facility. It is across all stages of the value chain–manufacture, distribution, storage, and ultimately administration–where you need to maintain the proper temperature conditions to preserve vaccines to render them fit for use.
Why is the Right Temperature Necessary?
You should store vaccines in the right temperature environment to preserve their effectiveness for use.
Vaccines are sensitive to temperature as they are biological substances. If you fail to handle and store them properly, they will lose their potency to protect against diseases. Vaccines influence the human immune system. But, if they are not within the characteristic temperature, their immunogenicity degrades and becomes unfit for use. Mostly, you will see vaccines getting damaged if you store them in the wrong temperature environments.
Moreover, many vaccines are extremely sensitive to intense light, so you should store them in dark places. If you expose them to light, they lose potency.
The correct temperature is a must for storing vaccines right from production to administering. Ideally, you should store most vaccines in strict temperature ranges, usually from 2 degrees C to 8 degrees C. Also, many vaccines tolerate freezing temperatures. Depending on the manufacturers’ instructions, you should store such vaccines between -15 degrees C and -50 degrees C. Common vaccines, like varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and smallpox, belong to the category.
How to Store Vaccines?
Never store vaccines in a household refrigerator, which will damage them due to locks’ non-availability and the absence of temperature control systems. For storing vaccines, you need storages that maintain a specific temperature range. And household refrigerators cannot provide accuracy in temperature, which will erode vaccines’ effectiveness, rendering them unsuitable for use.
What are the Key Features of Medical Refrigerators?
You can regard a medical refrigerator as a vaccine storage refrigerator, given the features it bears that render it suitable for storing vaccines.
According to the definition by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), medical refrigerators and freezers as purpose-built units to store biological material.
Amongst the features, accurate temperature control is the most prominent feature in a medical refrigerator. It can keep vaccines in the right temperature range. Most medical fridges have precise temperature control settings and can measure the vaccines’ temperature while maintaining the right temperature.
Usually, such refrigerators come with:
- Alarm systems to send an alert signal when the door is left open or when the temperature is not at the right level
- Locks to prevent theft
How Should Vaccines Be Stored And Handled?
To ensure the effectiveness of vaccines, you have to store and handle them properly. You can adopt the following practices for proper vaccine storage:
- Keep each vaccine in its place and label it. Avoid storing similar vaccines next to one another
- Store vaccines two to three inches away from the wall of the refrigerator and other boxes
- Paste stickers on every refrigerator and electrical outlet. It is advisable to plug in only one refrigerator per electrical outlet
- Check the temperature twice a day, or at least once a day
- Avoid storing vaccines on the refrigerator door
- Ensure you close the door tightly
- Avoid storing other medications in the same unit where you keep vaccines
- Place items on different shelves to minimize medical errors.
It is also crucial for you to use the vaccine immediately after opening it to ensure its effectiveness. If, for any reason, you fail to use the vaccine immediately after opening, dispose of it properly. It is also a good practice to move vaccines that have the soonest expiration date to the front of the unit with a mark. It will help your staff to pick them up as soon as possible.
If you run a medical facility and store vaccines, do not fall behind in investing in a medical refrigerator. If you fall to the temptation to use a household refrigerator, it will be a risky affair that can entail a tremendous monetary loss by damaging the vaccines.
It will help if you go for a medical refrigerator equipped with accurate temperature control systems and other useful features to keep your vaccines safe and secure.