a chainlink with ice and frost

Understanding and Maintaining the Vaccine Cold Chain

Vaccines are essential to the continuation of humanity. They offer protection against the world’s most deadly and devastating diseases: over 17.1 million lives have been saved within the last 18 years because of the measles vaccination, and the hospitalizations of children related to vaccine-preventable illnesses have significantly decreased as well.

Since vaccines are exceedingly fragile, they require constant care and attention — especially where their temperature is concerned: even the slightest time spent outside of their ideal temperature ranges (which depends on the type of vaccine) could result in its breakdown, rendering it ineffective. Understanding how vaccines get from their manufacturers to the hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies where they’re needed and used relies entirely on the success of the cold chain, a temperature-controlled supply chain that utilizes vaccine refrigerator- and vaccine freezer-equipped transportation.

Know Your Vaccines

Every vaccine has an ideal temperature; refrigerated vaccines need to be within 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, while frozen vaccines need to be between -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, vaccine storage refrigerators and scientific freezers are necessary for their care and the maintenance of that consistent temperature.

Know Your Facility

Equally as important to the individual vaccines is understanding where your facility falls on the cold chain. Health offices and facilities fall in the peripheral level, meaning they possess relatively simple containers (like undercounter medical refrigerators or pharmaceutical freezers). The primary level occurs on a national scale, utilizing refrigerated trucks and entire freezer or refrigerated rooms for vaccine storage and transportation.

Keep It Cold

As a laboratory or health center that holds or administers vaccines, you must follow the proper guidelines for the maintenance of those specific temperatures; this means you check the medical grade freezer or undercounter medical refrigerator temperature every morning and evening, and monitor the number of times the doors are opened (as prolonged exposure can increase the temperature inside and cause damage to the vaccines). Installing a temperature measuring device (TMD), you can ensure that the maximum highs and lows of the day are still within safe ranges and guarantee that your patients are receiving potent inoculations. With such a delicate yet vital medicine, there is no such thing as too much preparation.

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