Vaccines are delicate items. They need special care and specific temperature environments for effective storage. If you fail to keep vaccines at the right temperature, they will lose potency and become unfit for use.
When your vaccine stock gets damaged, two things can happen. One, you cannot provide vaccine administration to people. Two, you have to throw away the damaged vaccine stock worth substantial monetary value.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended using data loggers for medical refrigerators and lab freezers. A data logger monitors the cold storage unit’s temperature that stores vaccines. It is also called a thermal recorder.
It is critical to maintaining the requisite temperature inside the freezer that stores your vaccines to preserve the vaccines’ potency. Additionally, it is necessary to keep track of the temperature fluctuations inside the freezer by devices, such as a data logger or remote temperature logger.
While vaccines protect people against diseases, damaged vaccines also take many lives. One of the common reasons for vaccines getting damaged is storage at an incorrect temperature.
The channel for distributing and preserving vaccines is called the cold chain that extends from the manufacturing facility to administration to people, passing through the transportation stages.
If the cold chain gets broken anywhere, it will damage the vaccines. The best way to restrict any break in the cold chain is using temperature monitoring devices.
It is best to record your freezer’s temperature for several days before storing vaccines. In this way, you can ensure that the unit is working correctly. You should record the minimum and maximum temperatures for each day.
After you record freezer temperatures for at least two days and if you find everything all right, you can use the unit for storing vaccines.
For safe vaccine storage, refrigerator temperatures should be between 2 degrees C and 8 degrees C, and lab freezer temperatures should be between -50 degrees C and -15 degrees C.
Also, ensure that your staff regularly records the minimum and maximum temperatures of the unit.
Moreover, the data log should also include the date, time, name of the person recording the temperature, and what action was taken in temperature fluctuations. Besides, it will help if your staff does not miss out on the temperature recordings for even a single day.
Invest in a Digital Data Logger
You should not fail to adhere to the CDC recommendation of using a remote temperature logger to monitor your freezer temperature.
Data loggers monitor temperature continuously and alert you if the temperature goes out of the recommended range.
You can download the information gathered by data loggers. It helps you analyze the temperature data and ensure that your vaccine stock is within the recommended temperature range.
Data Logger Requirements for VFC Compliance
According to CDC recommendations, using a data logger is one of the best practices to assess your freezer temperature. From January 2020 onwards, the VFC program has undergone an upgrade, requiring all providers to use data loggers in all refrigerators and freezers that store vaccines for administering to VFC-eligible children. Besides, the providers should have a back-up device to use in case of any malfunction in the current device.
You should ensure that your data logger meets the following requirements to conform to the VFC program requirements:
Buffered Temperature Probe
A buffered temperature probe simulates the vaccine temperature inside the cold storage unit instead of the refrigerator’s air temperature. The typical buffer materials are glycol, glass beads, sand, or Teflon.
There has to be a digital display to indicate the data logger’s temperature. It should display the current, minimum, and maximum temperatures, apart from the low battery state.
The data logger you use should bear the feature of downloading the monitored data. With the feature, it becomes helpful for your staff as it relieves them from manually recording temperatures. Ensure that you download the data regularly.
There has to be an alarm that alerts, visually or audibly, about out-of-range temperatures when they occur.
Accurate Readings at Scheduled Intervals
Program your data logger to take readings accurately after every 30 minutes.
A Certificate of Calibration
You should calibrate your data logger to ensure that it takes readings according to the nationally accepted standards. Ensure that you get a report of calibration or certificate of calibration from the appropriate authority every one to two years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
If you run a lab, it is your responsibility to keep your vaccine stock at the appropriate temperature to prevent damage. So, you must invest in a data logger in addition to the right freezer.