In an era when vaccines are subject to detailed regulations, such as those developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the Vaccines for Children program, it’s more important than ever for hospitals to fully abide by the set requirements, clearly demonstrate their adherence, plus assure patients and caregivers that the vaccines on-hand are both safe and effective. Ensuring safe and effective vaccine storage is critical!
The Impact of Vaccine Storage on Vaccine Potency, Effectiveness and Protection
One of the most important areas for ensuring vaccine efficacy is storage. It is critical to store vaccines with the utmost care. The CDC lists several reasons vaccine storage should be a safety priority for every healthcare facility, including:
- The potency, effectiveness and protection of a vaccine decreases when exposed to temperatures outside recommended ranges
- Disease rates decrease with proper storage and handling of vaccines
- Storage and handling errors cost hospitals thousands of dollars in wasted vaccines and revaccinations each year
- Patients lose confidence in vaccines and hospitals when repeat doses are required
Because vaccine storage is so critical to the efficacy of a vaccine, the CDC’s guidelines for vaccine storage state that,
“It is better to not vaccinate than to administer a dose of vaccine that has been mishandled.”
7 Considerations to Ensure Vaccines Remain Safe and Effective
Below, we’ve outlined seven key considerations to ensure your vaccines remain safe and effective.
1. Use Pharmacy-Grade Refrigeration Cabinets.
Pharmacy-grade stand-alone or purpose-built refrigeration units are best for ensuring vaccines remain effective. One should never use dormitory or dual-zone (refrigerator and freezer combo) consumer refrigerators to store vaccines.
2. Ensure Advanced Insulation and Cooling Technology.
Not all pharmacy-grade refrigerators are alike. Choose a refrigeration cabinet with forced air circulation. In addition, make sure your unit includes superior insulation, or your vaccines could experience temperature fluctuations that may decrease their effectiveness, potency and protection.
3. Maintain a Verifiable Constant Temperature and Alert to Out-of-Range Events.
Vaccine refrigerators require a constant temperature between 2° and 8°C for most routinely recommended vaccines. Built-in temperature monitoring enables you to track temperature with ease and accuracy. The refrigeration cabinet should also feature alerts that enable staff to respond quickly to changes in temperature, doors that are ajar, and other potential issues.
4. Track Item-Level Vaccine Temperature History.
It is important to track the history of a vaccine’s environment in order to ensure it has been kept within the labeled temperature range. Refrigeration cabinets should enable you to not only see when the temperature is out of range, but also to identify exactly what vaccines are stored in the cabinet during that time and may be impacted.
This allows for quick and simple removal of any items that might be affected. Vaccines with RFID smart tags, stored in an RFID-equipped refrigeration cabinet, provide this level of detail to know precisely what vaccines have been impacted by temperature fluctuations.
5. Employ Emergency Battery Backups.
In the event of a power outage, make sure your cabinet has battery back-up to allow continued temperature monitoring, helping ensure continuous cold-chain compliance.
6. Secure and Monitor Vaccine Access.
The best way to secure inventory and prevent diversion and tampering is to select a refrigeration cabinet that features secure access controls, showing you who has accessed the unit, which vaccines were removed, what quantities were taken, and when. Cabinets with RFID technology can track and provide real-time visibility to these access details through a web-based client portal.
7. Automatically Track and Optimize Vaccine Inventory.
Modern refrigerated cabinets should allow you to not only track and remove expired vaccines, but also monitor low-inventory levels to ensure your hospital always has what it needs and that expired or soon-to-expire vaccines are accounted for. This process is often manual, which is time-consuming and prone to error. With advanced RFID technology, tracking is done automatically as the cabinet door is opened and closed – no manual intervention needed.
Ensure Smarter Vaccine Storage with an Intelliguard® Inventory Management System
The Intelliguard® Inventory Management System provides an RFID-enabled pharmacy-grade refrigeration system for storing vaccines and other critical inventory. Smart and user-friendly, the Intelliguard® RFID Solutions refrigeration units enable you to fulfill all seven keys to safe and effective vaccine storage:
- Ensure vaccines are kept safe and effective
- Continually monitor the temperature range of each cabinet in the system
- Provide detailed temperature data and reports in real-time
- Track and monitor temperatures of vaccines in all units 24/7
- Alert staff immediately to out-of-range temperatures and expired vaccines
- Enable staff to view and manage vaccine inventory levels in the cabinet at all times via a simple Client Intelligence Portal
- Provide secure remote visibility and controlled access to all cabinets in the system
Discover the striking differences between an RFID solution like the Intelliguard® Inventory Management System and others.
Use these “7 Considerations to Ensure Safe & Effective Vaccine Storage” as a checklist during your vaccine storage selection process. While some hospitals may be tempted to overlook the potential life-threatening consequences of less-than-optimum vaccine storage, hopefully, it will help you make an informed decision and have a much easier time choosing the solution that’s right for your hospital.
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