Medical fridges ensure that vaccines and medicines are stored within the correct temperature range, but these temperatures must be monitored and logged at least once a day
Medical practices and practitioners know the importance of keeping medicines and vaccines within the cold chain and that dedicated transportation boxes and fridges are required to do this.
For those that are unfamiliar with the cold chain, it is the process of keeping medicines at the correct temperature from the moment of manufacture to the point of use.
Keeping vaccines and medicines at the correct temperature ensures that they remain safe to administer to patients and that they are working as they should.
Below, we discuss the correct temperature at which to store medicines and vaccines, how to store them and, most importantly, how to check that they are being stored at the correct temperature.
Store vaccines at the correct temperature:
The vast majority of vaccines must be stored at a temperature range of between 2˚C and 8˚C, but it is always best to check with the manufacturer as this can vary.
Medical fridges have been designed specifically to maintain this range and most fridges use thermometers to record the temperature of the vaccine itself, as well as the interior of the fridge.
The best medical fridges are fitted with two thermometers, including a max/min gauge which does not rely on mains power, so that temperatures can be accurately monitored in the event of a power cut.
Fridges are usually equipped with alarms which will sound if the temperature of the vaccines rises above or falls outside this range, so that action can be taken before they spoil.
Make sure vaccines are stored correctly:
Medical fridges can certainly maintain the temperature required for the correct storage of vaccines, but practitioners must also play their part.
It is important to remember that medical fridges should never be more than 75% full and it is advisable to leave 1cm between vaccines.
Also ensure that vaccines are not resting against the back or sides of the fridge, as this can lead to freezing and the medicines being damaged beyond the point of use.
It goes without saying that only vaccines and medicines can be stored in a dedicated medical fridge and items such as food and drink should never be kept within the same environment.
Regularly monitor the temperature of vaccines:
Medical fridges maintain the correct temperature required for vaccine storage and notify you when the temperature falls out of range, but it is still important for practitioners to monitor and log temperatures on a regular basis.
The UK Government recommends that at least one person at each practice be responsible for doing this, although it is always best to share the task between a couple of people, to ensure continuity.
Temperatures should be logged at least once a day at the same time and recorded on a dedicated form. The person taking the temperature should also sign their name against the entry.
Once this has been done, the thermometer should be reset. While once a day is sufficient, recording temperatures first thing in the morning and then at the end of the day is best practice.
A quick recap on medical fridge temperature logging:
• Temperatures should be recorded and logged at least once a day
• Log temperatures on a dedicated form and sign your name next to it
• Reset the thermometer after recording the temperature
• Medical fridges are equipped with alarms that sound if the temperature rises or falls out of range
• Store vaccines correctly to help maintain the required temperature range
If you have any more questions about monitoring the temperature of medical fridges and the vaccines and medicines stored inside, please contact a member of the CoolMed team.