Safe Vaccine Storage Check List

Proper storage protects vaccine potency

Proper storage protects vaccine potency

Updated versions of three vaccines have been recommended by the World Health Organization for the 2012-2013 flu season according to the Centers for Disease Control.  In order to avoid vaccine deterioration it is essential that healthcare facilities take special precautions in vaccine storage and handling especially as it related to vaccine storage temperature.  Inoculation centers should use vaccine storage refrigerators designed to maintain accurate cold chain storage temperatures.  Residential and dorm-type units are not likely to maintain correct temperatures, which can result in loss of potency and the need to revaccinate – not to mention the cost of lost product.

Check Recommended Vaccine Storage Temperatures

Influenza vaccine manufacturers provide recommended storage temperatures for both LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine) administered as a nasal spray and TIV (trivalent influenza vaccine) administered as a flu shot.  According to the CDC LAIV is shipped at 35°F – 46°F (2°C-8°C) and  should be stored at 35°F-46°F (2°C-8°C) on receipt.  LAIV can remain at that temperature until the expiration date is reached. TIV should be stored at 35°F-46°F (2°C-8°C) and should not be frozen. TIV that has been frozen should be discarded. In both cases vaccine prepared for a previous influenza season should not be administered.

Check Vaccine Storage Refrigerators

When selecting a vaccine storage refrigerator keep in mind that manual-defrost refrigerators have been deemed unacceptable because their cold wall design can freeze or damage vaccines that may be in contact with the walls.  The preferred design is an auto-defrost refrigerator such as the 24 cubic foot Nor-Lake NSPR241 available from Tovatech with a digital LED microprocessor temperature controller and audio/visual temperature alarms.  This unit, also available in larger capacities, allows users to control the temperature from 2⁰ t o 10⁰C.  Healthcare clinics with smaller storage requirements can select the 5.2 cubic foot Nor-Lake LR061 undercounter lab refrigerator also equipped with a digital LED microprocessor temperature control and temperature alarms.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions on setting up and maintaining your vaccine storage refrigerator.

Check Vaccine Storage Procedures

Any healthcare facility responsible for administering vaccines should have procedures in place to protect the vaccine contents from degradation.  Examples include:

  • Assign primary and backup personnel responsible for vaccine storage and handling
  • Record vaccine arrival, condition, manufacturer, lot number and expiration date
  • Store vaccines with earlier expiration dates in the front of the refrigerator
  • Monitor and record temperatures twice daily
  • Establish procedures to protect contents in the event of a malfunction or power failure
  • Do not keep food or beverages in a vaccine storage refrigerator

Flu vaccines represent a substantial investment.  Situations where mishandling has caused substantial financial losses due to spoilage are a matter of record.  Healthcare facilities should establish and maintain standard operating procedures to protect vaccines from spoilage and avoid the need for patients to return for a re-vaccination.

For more information on this subject we invite you to read our post on guidelines for vaccine refrigerators and freezers.

Contact the scientists at Tovatech for expert advice on selecting scientific refrigerators and freezers for storing vaccines at your facility.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More