Vaccines must be kept in the cold chain to ensure they are safe to administer to patients. This requires a temperature range of between 2’C and 8’C
The acceptable temperature for medications that require refrigeration is 2OC – 8OC and it is important that they are transported and stored within this range at all times.
This temperature range is called the cold chain and makes sure that medicines and vaccines remain in the best possible condition. It also stops them becoming damaged beyond the point of use.
Spoiled vaccines are ineffective and can prevent patients from receiving the protection or cure they need. Spoiled vaccines are also an unnecessary expense for health practices and practitioners.
The best way to ensure that vaccines and medicines remain in the cold chain is to use specialist equipment designed to provide stable and accurate temperatures.
During transportation this means using state of the art refrigerated containers and vehicles and during storage this means using a dedicated medical fridge.
But it is not just a case of ordering a fridge and placing the vaccines inside – vaccines must be stacked correctly, temperatures monitored and logged, and the fridge cleaned and maintained.
How to store medicines in a medical fridge:
When stocking a medical fridge, it is important to make sure that none of the vaccines touch the back or sides of the fridge as this can lead to freezing.
It is also important to leave a one-centimetre space between each vial as this helps to manage the temperature inside the fridge and stops medicines from being knocked over when being taken out.
Medicines usually come in a protective wrapper which should be kept in place during storage as this helps prevent any light damage occurring.
Finally, make sure not to overload the fridge as again this can make managing the required temperature range more difficult. We suggest not exceeding 75% capacity at any given time.
Monitor temperatures at least twice per day:
Once you have stocked your medical fridge it is important to monitor and log temperatures at least twice per day – we suggest first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
The task of logging temperatures should be given to a senior member of the team with the required experience to ensure they are recorded accurately.
Recordings should be taken for current, min and max temperatures and the person logging the data should sign their name next to each recording.
Once the recording has been taken the thermometer should be reset. If at any point the temperature has fallen below or risen above the required range, they must react.
How they react will depend on what has caused the temperature to fall or rise – it can be as simple as closing the door if it has been left open or calling an engineer if it is because of a technical issue.
Clean and maintain your fridge:
The best way of ensuring that vaccines and medicines are kept within the required temperature is to regularly clean and properly maintain the fridge.
Medical fridges should be cleaned inside and out at least once per week and more regularly, even daily, for high usage areas such as door handles.
Regular servicing and maintenance of the medial fridge is also important as it minimises the risk of it breaking down – most retailers will provide a maintenance and service package.
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