What Happens if Vaccines Are Not Refrigerated?

Vaccines are commonplace in surgeries and hospitals. They save lives every year, and they are one of the greatest discoveries of the modern era. But vaccines need very specific storage conditions to be effective, which includes storing them within a very specific temperature range.

Here’s a look at why this is important, and what happens when vaccines are stored incorrectly.

What Happens to Vaccines Stored Incorrectly?

When vaccines are not stored correctly, they stop working effectively. Their potency is affected when they are stored outside of the correct temperature range.

Once the potency of a vaccine is lost, it does not return, and the vaccine effectively becomes spoiled and useless.

If the vaccine is ineffective, it can lead to a whole host of issues, including the patient not being fully protected against the disease the vaccine is being administered to prevent.  

Vaccines are highly temperature-sensitive – especially live vaccines like measles, which are negatively affected when the temperature is too high.

Diluent (the liquid used in some vaccines) can also freeze if it gets too cold. This can destroy certain vaccines like those for pneumococcal disease and tetanus.

As you can imagine, destroyed vaccines costs money, and replacing vaccinations is very expensive.

Vaccines must therefore be stored at the correct temperatures at all times, from their production right up to when they are used.

What Is the Correct Temperature Range?

Vaccines must be stored within a very specific temperature range, which is usually between 2°C and 8°C.

Anything below 2°C and above 8°C can destroy the vaccines and render them ineffective, which could have serious consequences for the medical practice administering it.

The obvious solution is to always keep vaccines in a fridge. But there is a problem here as well – many fridges are simply not suitable. Only specially designed medical fridges are adequate for storing vaccines.

Why a Medical Fridge Is Essential for Vaccines

Medical fridges are the only effective way to store vaccines, and the reason comes down to correct temperature control.

The temperature control of medical fridges is highly accurate. As long as the vaccines are stored correctly inside, the temperature is kept in the right range. Temperature probes inside monitor the temperature and stabilise it, ensuing that it is stable and even at all times.

 Food fridges or bar fridges are designed for food and drink, and they do not provide the same levels of accuracy and control. 

On top of this increased accuracy, medical fridges have a number of other benefits. They often have 24/7 temperature data logging, and some have alarms to alert users to drops in temperature that could affect the vaccines (for example, if the door is left open by mistake).

A good fridge will also have a lock – because vaccines are expensive, theft can be a problem. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some have solid doors while others have glass doors so you can see the vaccines inside.

Always Ensure Correct Temperature Control

Vaccines provide protection from some of the world’s worst diseases, and they are absolutely essential for our health. But they must be stored correctly if they are to be effective. If you are responsible for storing vaccines, always ensure you use a dedicated medical fridge to keep them at the correct temperature so they are 100% effective