Because vaccines must be stored within fairly precise temperature ranges, health care providers go to great lengths to store their vaccines safely and are ready to handle any storage problems that come up.
From a power failure to someone leaving the door of the refrigerator open, if you aren’t prepared, you can lose all of your vaccines.
Handling Vaccine Storage Problems
Before we get to preventing vaccine storage problems, you should know how to handle a temperature excursion in your vaccine refrigerator or freezer.
“Any temperature reading outside ranges recommended in the manufacturers’ package inserts is considered a temperature excursion. Identify temperature excursions quickly and take immediate action to correct them. This can prevent vaccine waste and the potential need to revaccinate patients.”Handling a Temperature Excursion in Your Vaccine Storage Unit
Most importantly, don’t use any of the vaccines as you work through the problem.
Next, as soon as someone discovers a temperature excursion, they should:
- Notify whoever is in charge of vaccine storage in your clinic or office and work through your emergency response worksheet.
- If necessary, unless the temperature excursion was caused by a temporary problem that was already fixed, move the affected vaccines to a working vaccine refrigerator or freezer or temporary vaccine storage unit, being sure that they are labeled “do not use.”
- Carefully document all of the details of the temperature excursion.
- Contact the vaccine manufacturers and your state Vaccines for Children representative (if you were using state vaccines) for further guidance.
What further guidance will you get?
It depends on how long the vaccines were out of their recommended temperature range, which vaccines were affected, and if they got too hot or too cold.
Preventing Vaccine Storage Problems
Of course, it would be much better to prevent these types of vaccine storage problems then have to deal with them after they happen.
How do you do that?
In addition to using a digital data logger that will monitor vaccine storage temperatures, it can help to have a:
- commercial grade stand-alone refrigerator and freezer units, no combo units and no dorm-style units
- battery backup or generator for power failures
- door alarm for your refrigerator and freezer
- vaccine datalogger that can send text or email alerts to notify you of problems
- daily log with the minimum and maximum temperatures of your vaccine refrigerator and freezer units, recorded twice a day
- cooler to transport or temporarily store your vaccines
And most importantly, have an emergency response plan in place so that you are prepared for any vaccine storage problems you might face.
More on Vaccine Storage Emergencies
- Buying a Vaccine Refrigerator
- Transporting Vaccines Safely
- Which Vaccines Need to be Frozen?
- Which Vaccines Need to be Refrigerated?
- When a Vaccine Doesn’t Count and Needs to Be Repeated
- Avoiding the Most Common Vaccine Errors
- Ask the Experts about Vaccine Storage and Handling
- CDC – Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
- CDC – Handling a Temperature Excursion in Your Vaccine Storage Unit
- Out-of -Range Temperature Vaccine Incident Report
- Summary of stability data for licensed vaccines
- GSK Vaccine Temperature Stability Calculator
- Storage and Handling for VARIVAX (Varicella Virus Vaccine Live)
- Storage and Handling for the M-M-RII Vaccine
- WHO – Temperature sensitivity of vaccines
- Vaccine Storage and Handling Handouts
- Vaccine Storage and Handling Questions and Answers
- AAP – Vaccine Storage and Handling
- AAP – Storage and Handling Series Data Loggers and Vaccine Monitoring
- CDC – Keys to Storing and Handling Your Vaccine Supply
- Emergency Vaccine Retrieval and Storage Plan Worksheet
- Temperature Excursion Procedures (Tennessee Immunization Program)
- Storage & Handling Temperature Incidents (South Carolina Immunization Program)
- Temperature Excursion Report (New York State Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program)
- Temperature Excursion Response Checklist (Colorado )
- Study – Safety of vaccines that have been kept outside of recommended temperatures: Reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 2008-2012
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