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Vaccine Storage and Handling Vaccines

Vaccine quality and patient safety rely on proper storage and handling. The right vaccine monitoring system allows you to be confident in total compliance and preventing vaccine wastage.
a lab technician pipettes a solution into test tubes

The Pharmaceutical Guide to Handling & Storing Vaccines

Each year, as much as 50 percent of vaccines worldwide are wasted due to exposure to inappropriate temperatures during storage prior to inoculation. This guide will help you learn best practices and protocols in proper vaccine storage and handling vaccines.
test tubes lined up in the shape of a question mark

Risk Factors

Factors like overexposure to heat, cold, or light at any step in the cold chain reduces vaccine potencyㅡonce lost, it can no longer be restored. Exposure to inappropriate temperatures in vaccine storage and handling vaccines results in financial loss and wasted vaccines.

a warehouse worker scans barcodes on packages

Complex Supply Chains

Vaccine distribution involves complex networks of manufacturers, distributors, healthcare workers and facilities. Moving a huge volume of vaccines from manufacturer to point of use inadvertently exposes vaccines through areas with unpredictable temperature fluctuations.

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Cold Chain Requirements

Different types of vaccines require unique temperature ranges whether ultra-cold (< -50 °C), frozen (-50 to -15 °C), or refrigerated (2-8 °C). Temperature excursions during transport and storage can affect vaccine potency resulting in compromised vaccines.

Keys to Vaccine Storage and Handling Vaccines

Maintain Vaccine Cold Chain Integrity

Vaccines must be kept in a temperature controlled environment from the time they leave the manufacturer until they are administered. Maintaining the cold chain environment relies on well-trained staff and reliable storage temperature monitoring.

Routine & Emergency Vaccine Storage and Handling

Since vaccine storage and handling vaccines are often done at the provider site, developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for routine and emergency cases is critical. This includes protecting vaccines during malfunctions, power failure, and natural disasters.

Staff Training

Everyone who handles and administers vaccines must be trained in routine and emergency policies and procedures for vaccine storage, handling, and inventory management. A primary staff must also be designated as a primary vaccine coordinator.

Storage and Temperature Monitoring Equipment

Proper equipment includes storage units and temperature monitoring devices or digital data loggers. For storage, the CDC recommends purpose-built refrigerators or freezers (pharmaceutical grade) with back-up power supply.

For continuous temperature monitoring, the CDC recommends digital data loggers with the following features:

  • Alarm for out of range temperatures
  • Display for current, minimum and maximum temperatures
  • Accuracy level of +/- 0.5 °C (+/- 1.0 °F)
  • Buffered probe that reflects the temperature of the vaccine
Calibration Testing

Each temperature monitoring device must have a current and valid certificate of calibration testing (report of calibration). This report indicates the device’s level of accuracy. Calibration must also be done every 1 to 2 years from the issue date of the certificate.

sealed test tubes on a rack in a refrigerator

How Dickson Products & Solutions Can Help

Dickson offers a broad portfolio of data loggers, NIST-calibrated sensors and remote monitoring software (DicksonOne) tailored to meet the specific environmental monitoring needs in vaccine storage and handling vaccines.

With Dickson, you can dramatically reduce the chances of an excursion through continuous monitoring, real-time alerts and notifications which allow for immediate response.

  • Sensor calibrations using NIST-traceable standards
  • User-configured alarms via phone call, email, or SMS
  • CDC and VFC-compliant continuous temperature monitoring system (DicksonOne)
an empty tray is being removed from a cooling unit

Vaccine Temperature Monitoring

Any point in the vaccine cold chain that goes without temperature monitoring can introduce risk for vaccine wastage. This is why the CDC recommends having a data logger for each vaccine storage unit or transport unit with at least one backup in case of device malfunctions.

Investing in a reliable temperature monitoring device (TMD) or digital data logger is less expensive than replacing wasted vaccines caused by out-of-range temperatures during vaccine storage and handling vaccines.

Combining 90+ years of experience and cutting-edge technology, Dickson can give you the peace of mind that our temperature monitoring devices check all the boxes to ensure vaccine viability.

  • Compact, battery-powered data loggers with audible / visual alarms
  • Replaceable sensors for zero downtimes during recalibration
  • Wireless data transmission via Cloud or Bluetooth
  • Buffered probe for measuring actual vaccine temperatures
  • Remote monitoring software for analyzing temperature data
  • Cloud data storage for analyzing long-term trends or recurring problems