In healthcare, impeccable vaccine storage is paramount, particularly as the Autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes begin to roll out. Vaccine fridges are an indispensable tool that ensures vaccines retain their efficacy. In this blog, we’ll delve into the pivotal role of a vaccine fridge for flu and COVID-19 vaccine storage, and how this equipment will help you during this busy season.
What is a flu vaccine and how does flu vaccination work?
The influenza vaccine, also known as the flu vaccine, is an injection that protects against the influenza virus. The vaccination works by injecting a small amount of deactivated, and therefore non-harmful, flu virus into the body. This deactivated virus then teaches the body how to protect itself against it.
Because the flu virus is constantly changing and evolving, there are different types of flu vaccines developed every year, and therefore the general public should have an annual flu vaccination.
What is in the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccination contains a small dose of the inactive flu virus. As well as this, the flu vaccine also contains other ingredients, such as stabilisers, preservatives, and substances that encourage an immune response. These primary components are also found in most other vaccine structures, such as the COVID-19 injection.
These ingredients are extremely important for manufacturing a safe vaccine and are necessary to keep the vaccines stable and effective for long periods.
Optimising vaccine fridge management for effective vaccine storage
A vaccine is only as good as its storage solution due to its specific temperature requirements, between +2°C and +8°C. Any changes in storage that cause this temperature to fluctuate, such as leaving a fridge door open, can have a huge impact on the safety of a vaccine and can also render it completely useless.
Incorrect management can also contribute to substantial waste costs with £2.6 million of vaccine wastage being reported in 2022 due to avoidable reasons. These reasons include expired vaccines and cold-chain failures such as medical fridges malfunctioning, fridges being left open, and vaccines being left out of a medical fridge.
Where flu season is a busy period of the year for GP practices and pharmacies, proper storage of vaccines is essential to minimise wastage and keep costs low.
How should vaccines be stored?
The reliability and effectiveness of a vaccination programme is heavily dependent on the proper distribution of secure, high-quality vaccines. Ensuring this quality is only possible by strictly following guidelines for storing, handling, and preparing vaccines. Some of these guidelines include:
1. Precise vaccine fridge temperature control
As previously mentioned, the cornerstone of vaccine potency lies in the management of vaccine fridge temperature. Maintaining an optimal temperature range of +2°C and +8°C, also known as the cold chain, is vital. CoolMed vaccine fridges are specially designed to maintain an internal temperature of +2°C and +8°C, which is continuously kept stable by our quality temperature sensors.
Our vaccine fridge controllers also show minimum and maximum temperatures when plugged into a power source and will continue to operate in the event of a power failure as a result of a battery backup installed in the cabinet. These features ensure that vaccines remain effective and safe for administration in the event of a power failure, and should be a fundamental aspect of any successful flu vaccination campaign.
If you are concerned about the running of your vaccination fridge, we offer annual medical fridge and freezer servicing, carried out by trained EBME engineers. Included in our calibration service are maintenance and compliance checks to ensure compliance with NHS Green Book 2013 regulations regarding vaccine and medicine storage.
2. Vaccine fridge selection
Selecting a suitable vaccine fridge for your healthcare facility is a pivotal decision to ensure your fridge can handle the volume of stock you have. Large medical fridges will be better suited to high footfall locations such as hospitals and medical centres, whereas a small vaccine fridge will be ideal for clinics and GP practices with space constraints.
A portable vaccine fridge is also a viable option during flu season. They offer flexibility for healthcare professionals on the move whilst still ensuring cold-chain compliance so vaccines remain usable. This equipment is perfect for doctors and nurses needing to visit multiple locations, such as care homes, to administer vaccines.
3. Ensure regular compliance
It is important that vaccines are stored in optimal conditions 24/7, and that drastic temperature variations are kept to a minimum. This ensures that vaccines are always safe to administer, and the amount of avoidable wastage is kept to a minimum.
Vaccine fridge data loggers are an indispensable tool when it comes to monitoring and recording temperature variations within vaccine fridges, and they play a crucial role in maintaining compliance with storage guidelines.
To ensure proper compliance, a member of staff should be appointed with the responsibility of taking regular temperature readings with an advanced data logger. These recordings will show any fluctuations in temperature and allow you to prevent any issues that could compromise the cold chain in the future.
4. Correct storage organisation
Not only do you need the correct equipment to store your flu vaccines correctly, as well as proper vaccine manufacturing, but you will also need to store them in the correct way to ensure their potency.
You should avoid positioning your vaccines in direct sunlight, and store them in original packaging.
Flu vaccines should be stored in their original packaging and protected from direct sunlight to prevent any decline in potency. To help with this, we would recommend using a solid-door vaccine fridge to limit exposure.
Further, it is important not to stock vaccines against the walls of your fridge and to leave at least a 1cm space between products. This will allow for sufficient airflow in the fridge chamber, helping to maintain a stable temperature.
Why are vaccine storage procedures important?
The effective management and storage of flu vaccines is essential to ensure patient safety, maintain public confidence in immunisation programmes and minimise vaccine wastage.
The costs associated with the loss and replacement of compromised vaccines should not be underestimated. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to minimise financial risk and to help sustain supplies, whilst still ensuring the safety of patients and the continuing success of flu vaccine programmes.
Get in touch
You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to storing vaccines – which is why we provide high-quality, purpose-built vaccine refrigerators that are designed to meet current storage guidelines for vaccine storage.
If you would like to speak to a member of our team about our vaccine fridges, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 161 772 5666. Our team will be happy to help!