A Vaccine Refrigeration Specification Guide     

Vaccine Refrigeration - 10 Essential Items to Consider
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Proper vaccine refrigeration is not a hit-or-miss proposition.  Each year there are reports on how improper vaccine storage or other mishaps relating to vaccines result in loss of potency.  This necessitates locating and revaccinating those who have received compromised inoculations plus the associated cost and inconvenience.  Proper vaccine storage is also a critical element for complying with government-funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) programs.

Vaccine manufacturers are careful to note the proper storage temperatures for their products along what is called the cold chain of custody between manufacturing and inoculation.  But manufacturers have little influence on the equipment used by healthcare facilities to maintain these temperatures.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has stepped into this by issuing its 2016 Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit to provide comprehensive information on this vital activity.    The Toolkit also covers in detail the importance of staff training and written standard … Read the rest

How to Comply with CDC Vaccine Storage Temperature Monitoring

Digital data logger for vaccine storage
Digital data logger for vaccine storage

One of the recommendations found in the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit is the use of digital data loggers along with audio and visual alarms to log internal storage temperatures and sound alarms if temperatures fall outside set limits.  Vaccine storage units that otherwise comply with CDC’s high/low temperature alarm recommendations may not be equipped with the all-important ability to record temperature history.  Instead they rely on personnel manually recording internal temperatures twice daily*.

Vaccine Storage Monitoring Options

Temperature Chart Recorders

Automating temperature monitoring can be achieved with the use of temperature chart recorders.  These are attached by wire to temperature sensors placed in glycerin or glycol-filled bottles positioned in the refrigerator or freezer.  The liquid “insulates” the sensor from spikes that occur when the unit’s door is opened to place or retrieve vaccines and other pharmaceuticals or samples. A disadvantage of paper … Read the rest

Ultra-Cold Freezer Saves Skull Fragments After Brain Surgery

Brain surgery is an intricate and precise procedure. When extreme swelling of the brain necessitates removal of portions of the skull to relieve pressure, it’s medically preferable to reattach those pieces rather than use prosthetic materials after the swelling subsides. Today, surgeons are able to preserve these fragments in an ultra-cold freezer.

Cerebral Herniation

ultra-low-norlake-NSSUF281WWW-0Dr. Matthew Kang, a neurologist at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has conducted several procedures that involve the removal of skull fragments to relieve swelling on the brain. In an interview with a local newscast, Dr. Kang discussed the consequences of cerebral swelling. “So if you have uncontrolled swelling and you have the skull on, the brain only has one way to go which is through the bottom, and that’s called a herniation,” Dr. Kang said. A cerebral herniation can lead to increased pressure inside the brain cavity. If untreated, a herniation can be fatal.… Read the rest

How to Buy a Laboratory Refrigerator/Freezer on a Budget

In the current economic climate, with shrinking budgets and tight credit, many laboratories are under a great deal of strain, especially when it comes to purchasing new equipment. Some facilities attempt to maintain their outdated cold storage units, while others try to substitute cheaper household units for those specifically designed for laboratory purposes. In the long run, neither of these alternatives are acceptable. Laboratory administrators should understand that they can take several steps to toward purchasing a new laboratory refrigerator or freezer without depleting their limited budgets.

lab-fridge-fullUnderstand Your Needs
Although a subcompact car often costs less than a pickup truck, each vehicle is equipped to accomplish different tasks. Most people would not buy a subcompact car to do the tasks required of a pickup truck solely based on the price tag. Just as with vehicles, laboratory personnel should not purchase a refrigerator or freezer based solely on price. A … Read the rest

New Scientific Refrigerator Line in Stainless Steel

A new Norlake scientific refrigerator line with easily maintained stainless steel interiors and exteriors, microprocessor temperature control in selectable Centigrade (2⁰ to 10⁰) or Fahrenheit (35.6⁰ to 50⁰), continuous product temperature display, and capacities of 23, 49 and 70 cubic feet is now available from Tovatech.  A companion scientific freezer series also in 1, 2 and 3 door configurations provides storage from -13⁰ to -30⁰C (-8.6⁰ to -22⁰F).

The Nor-Lake Grand™ Series of solid-door refrigerators and freezers provide enhanced content protection with visual and audible Hi/Lo temperature alarms that activate when internal temperatures fall outside set parameters.  Additional content protection is provided by self-closing doors (with a 90⁰ stay-open feature), open door alarms that activate after 30 seconds, and magnetic door gaskets.

A further refinement on the Energy Star listed auto-defrost Grand Series is a condenser cleaning reminder alarm.  For optimum performance periodic cleaning of the condenser coil aids the … Read the rest

Lab Freezer Alarm Crucial to Biological Sample Protection

An ultra-low freezer for biological specimens
An ultra-low freezer for biological specimens

An October news item reported that a lab freezer door left open at a medical research institute resulted in compromising some 26,000 specimens being used in the study of Parkinson’s disease. The article reported that the required storage temperature for the specimens is at a temperature below -80⁰C (-112⁰F).  “This incident along with others mentioned in our posts, clearly indicates human error is an unfortunate cause of such instances and that many if not all losses can be avoided with a lab freezer alarm,” says Tovatech director Dr. Rachael Kohn.

Lab Freezer Alarm Systems

Ultra-low temperature freezers – those designed to maintain temperatures to -86⁰C such as the NorLake Select series available from Tovatech – come equipped with sophisticated alarming systems that signal when a door is left ajar or other temperature excursions that can be caused by power failures.  “Indeed alarming systems are … Read the rest

Vaccine Refrigerators for the 2014 Flu Season

The fast-approaching 2014 flu season serves as a reminder for healthcare facility operators to review their vaccine storage practices especially relating to the ability of their vaccine refrigerators to maintain the correct storage temperature.  As reported in previous Tovatech posts costs related to loss of vaccine potency due to human error and mechanical failure can be very substantial.  Most of these losses occur at the end of the vaccine cold chain – when they arrive at clinics and stored prior to being administered to patients.

Minimizing Vaccine Storage Losses

Human error can be lessened and hopefully eliminated by establishing comprehensive vaccine storage and handling guidelines as suggested in the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit.  Losses related to improper storage temperatures can be minimized or eliminated when refrigeration equipment is designed to maintain tight temperature tolerances.  The proper storage temperature for refrigerated vaccines is provided by the manufacturer but normally … Read the rest

Ultra-Low Temp Chest Freezer for Confined Spaces

The Norlake 4.6 cubic foot top loading ultra-low chest freezer now available from Tovatech offers government, private and educational research facilities a high performance ultra low temperature cold storage solution in a small package. It requires a footprint less than 33 inches square and is just 46 inches high.

The scientific freezer is factory set at -80⁰C; researchers can select a temperature range from -40⁰ to -86⁰C in 0.1⁰C increments, also shown on the unit’s liquid crystal display.  These chest freezers have a complete range of on-board diagnostic, display and alarming features plus surge protection and a voltage buck/boost system to compensate for fluctuations in incoming voltage.  In short, controls, alarms, monitoring and the refrigeration system are designed to optimize content protection and to alert personnel in the event of power failures or equipment malfunction.

Applications for Low Temperature Chest Freezers

Like their upright cousins, ultra-low temperature chest freezers play … Read the rest

Update on CDC Vaccine Refrigeration Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its toolkit for vaccine storage and management incorporating revised recommendations for vaccine refrigeration equipment to better support the vaccine cold chain.  The “cold chain” represents the correct temperatures for storage and handling vaccines from the time of manufacture to the point where they are administered to patients.  The importance of proper refrigeration is evidenced by the growing costs of vaccines and the need to comply with federally funded and state operated vaccines for children (VFC) programs.

Vaccine storage temperatures are determined by the manufacturer.  Typically most refrigerated vaccines must be stored between 2⁰ and 8⁰C. Frozen vaccines should be stored between -50⁰ and -15⁰C.  The overriding guideline for VFC-compliant vaccine storage is that the refrigeration system does not allow temperature excursions above or below the recommended storage temperatures.   Unlike household and commercial refrigerators and freezers, scientific and pharmacy units such as … Read the rest

Storage Tips to Help Safeguard Vaccines

Vaccine Storage Tips - Lab Refrigerator
A Nor-Lake general purpose laboratory refrigerator.
A Nor-Lake  laboratory refrigerator.

Vaccine storage is an important topic that must be addressed by hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.   A good reference is the CDC’s Vaccine and Storage Handling Toolkit*. Among the suggestions are segregating different vaccine formulas used in these facilities to areas that are clearly identified.  Store by expiration dates and administer vaccines following first-in-first-out procedures.  Expired vaccines should be disposed of in an approved manner in accordance with state health requirements. (Updated December 26, 2013)

Vaccines lose their potency if improperly stored.  Clinics should follow manufacturers’ recommended storage temperatures.  Residential-grade refrigerators and freezers are not designed to maintain the temperature consistency necessary for proper storage of vaccines.  Using these types of units can result in financial loss for clinics and patient aggravation due to spoiled vaccines.

If budgets do not permit the purchase of pharmacy-grade refrigerators and freezers, laboratory refrigerators and  and laboratory freezers such

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