Keeping Vaccines and Vaccine Freezers Safe

If you have a vaccine refrigerator freezer unit, you know how important it is to maintain best practices in order to keep vaccines safe. Here’s what we all ought to know about vaccines and their handling.

Why Vaccines Are Crucial

Since 2000, the measles vaccine alone is believed to have saved 17.1 million lives across the world, according to the World Health Organisation and the Measles and Rubella Initiative. Every year, vaccines prevent about 2.5 million deaths. The CDC has estimated that about 710,000 hospitalizations and as many as 56,000 deaths from flu and related complications could have been prevented with more widespread use of vaccines.

Storing Vaccines Properly

Because vaccines are so crucial, proper storage is one of the most important issues in dealing with them. The CDC mandates that frozen vaccines must be stored at temperatures between -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and refrigerated vaccines need to be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Having the right vaccine refrigerator freezer unit is key, and medical grade refrigerators and freezers need to be kept in good shape with proper maintenance, redundant cooling systems, and dedicated electrical connections. The vaccine freezer must also be stored with enough air to circulate around it and in rooms that are not overly hot or humid. It is also crucial to never overload the capacity of the unit, and vaccine storage refrigerators must be defrosted regularly.

Handling Vaccines Properly

It is not enough to have the right vaccine refrigerator freezer unit, or to do all the regular maintenance on a medical fridge freezer unit. Everyday vaccine handling is crucial, as well.

Provide Good Training

Everyone involved in the lab should be aware of best practices, and there should be someone dedicated to vaccine responsibilities as well as a backup person to relieve and support them.

Receive Vaccines Properly

Whenever vaccines are received, accurate logs need to be kept and doublechecked, temperatures checked, and the vaccines themselves should be checked to make sure nothing is broken or too warm. Immediately report any discrepancies in lot numbers or any issues with breakage. The vaccines should be immediately stored in the vaccine refrigerator freezer unit and the temperature in the unit recorded.

Store Vaccines Correctly

It is important to regularly check expiration dates and to rotate stock so as to use those with the shortest expiration dates first. For any multi-dose vaccines, the date and time it was opened should be carefully recorded. Every time the vaccine refrigerator freezer unit is opened, the temperature should be logged. Store vaccines away from the air circulation vents in the freezer to help prevent freezing.

Protect the Vaccine Refrigerator Freezer Unit

The unit should only be plugged into a dedicated outlet, and the outlet should be marked with a warning sign to prevent it being unplugged accidentally. Never store food or drinks in a medical freezer, and record temperatures in the unit at the start of every day and at least twice more during the rest of the day. The door of the unit should be opened only when necessary and for as short a time as possible, so remind staff to look through the door for what they need before opening and place warning signs on the unit to remind everyone to close the doors promptly.

Dealing With Potential Issues

If there are any issues with the way vaccines have been handles or with the temperatures inside a vaccine refrigerator freezer unit, immediately contact local authorities and the CDC to report the issue and find out whether the vaccines can be used. Record the temperatures in the refrigerator unit at the time the problem was discovered. If vaccines expire or become spoiled, contact authorities to double check and then report the issue.

Vaccine protocol is essential to saving lives, so always follow best practices with vaccines and with vaccine refrigerator freezer units.

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