Are the vaccines in your doctor’s fridge still working?

Anyone who has taken a child for their immunisations will agree that it is not a pleasant experience, but it is one which is worth it for the reported protection it offers.

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So, if you do need to endure a vaccination, you want to have confidence that it actually works. Unfortunately, many vaccines are sensitive substances which can be adversely affected if they are not kept in a strict, temperature controlled environment. There is a growing concern that inadequate medical refrigeration can lead to health professionals accidentally administering ineffective vaccines as a result of them being stored incorrectly.

Incorrect storage offers no visible warnings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of the importance of maintaining the quality and effectiveness of vaccines by ensuring they are stored correctly. Their storage and handling guides, published on their website – www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/admin/storage/index.html  – states that when some vaccines freeze, there is often no visible signs of it happening, meaning that incorrect storage at any point in the vaccination supply chain could easily go unnoticed.

This means that important vaccines for tetanus, pneumococcal disease and the human papillomavirus, to name a few, could be destroyed by accidental freezing, rendering them useless if used at a later stage by medical professionals unaware that they have, at some point, been stored incorrectly.

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The CDC recommends constant temperature of vaccines and advises against the use of domestic or bar fridges which can often run at higher temperatures than optimum for medical purposes, and have greater temperature variation even within the same unit, depending on whether items are stored at the top or bottom of the fridge. Sometimes the difference could be as high as 12 degrees, which is a lot considering most vaccines should be stored within 2-8 degrees.

Medical refrigerators offer a professional solution

Thankfully, this can be remedied with the use of high-quality medical refrigeration units. Offering a range of benefits crucial to the correct storage of medical supplies, purpose-built refrigeration units, such as those shown here – https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/medical-refrigeration offer a solution to the otherwise risky issue of storage.

They also make it easier for professionals to monitor the temperature at which vaccines are stored much more accurately. Known as ‘temperature mapping’ this is now a requirement under the Pharmacy Act.

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