Imagine a world without vaccines. It would be chaotic at best and empty at worst; people of all ages would lose their lives to entirely preventable diseases, creating a place hardly comparable to our own. Our dedication to science and its continuing advances has allowed us to move far beyond such a terrifying reality, eradicating dozens of diseases and keeping dozens more in check.
Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, these precious and lifesaving inoculations are incredibly delicate and susceptible to degradation; the slightest changes in light, temperature, or containment can reduce their effectiveness, making them useless to the those who need them the most. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 50% of vaccines are lost worldwide each year. With the proper care and maintenance, however, vaccine wastage and spoilage can be prevented and greatly reduced.
Both inactive and active vaccines (which are comprised of live viruses) are exceedingly fragile. Each vaccine has its own ideal temperature range: between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerated vaccines and -58 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit for frozen. Any extreme changes that fall outside these ranges can damage the vaccine, making it unreliable for patient use. Additionally, some vaccines are sensitive to light; even brief exposure outside of its specified container could result in the vaccine’s breakdown, resulting in inefficacy.
Since these inoculations are so delicate, their care is the biggest factor when it comes to their health and potency. Installing time-temperature indicators (such as vaccine vial monitors, or VVMs) on your vaccine refrigerators or freezers is one of the easiest ways to ensure the vaccine has not been tampered with and has not fallen out of its safe zones: they record the vaccine’s extreme daily temperatures, which may be affected by staff frequently opening the doors. Though technology can make the process much smoother, it is also vital that employees pay careful attention and document every action they take regarding the precious inoculations.