As of October 2013 predictions on the severity of the 2013-2014 flu season have not firmed according to the CDC, which notes on its website “Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.” The CDC also states that flu activity commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February but can run from October to May.*
While timing, strains and severity are of concern to everyone, dispensers of flu shots must continually evaluate the performance of their vaccine refrigerators and vaccine freezers to be certain that they comply with CDC vaccine storage recommendations. This is especially important if you participate in the vaccines for children (VFC) program. To finance vaccine refrigeration upgrades check your remaining budget for 2013 or include it in the 2014 budget.
Key Points for Proper Vaccine Storage
Vaccine manufacturers provide detailed information on proper storage in refrigerators or freezers. Vaccine expiration dates are included and as such should be considered in your facility’s vaccine storage operating procedures.
Aside from awareness of expiration dates there are three key points for storing flu vaccine:
- Storage temperature
- Alarming for high or low temperature excursions
- Temperature monitoring and record keeping
These points eliminate the use of household or commercial-grade restaurant and supermarket refrigerators and freezers. Scientific refrigerators and freezers are designed to provide correct storage temperatures. If need be these can be brought into compliance by using optional monitoring and recording equipment, and by establishing rules in your clinic that prohibit, among other things, on-door storage of vaccines.
Vaccine Storage Compliance Options
Healthcare clinics and other dispensers of flu vaccines updating their equipment to qualify for the VFC program have a number of options. At the outset you should estimate the number of dosages administered over a period of time against vaccine expiration dates. This lets you calculate vaccine storage requirements. With that information you can determine the size of your new vaccine refrigeration equipment.
Healthcare clinics with equipment that be brought into compliance with CDC guidelines have a number of options relating to vaccine storage, monitoring and alarming systems.
CDC vaccine storage guidelines and additional recommendations on compliance provide a current overview for clinics looking to upgrade their refrigeration and freezing equipment.
If you are planning to purchase or upgrade your vaccine freezing and refrigerating equipment please contact the scientists at Tovatech for recommendations. We represent several suppliers and are able to offer an unbiased opinion on the equipment that best fits your requirements.
*What You Should Know for the 2013-2014 Influenza Season