Why calibration is important for accurately monitoring vaccine temperatures

By Cindy Gisler, Product Marketing Manager, Analytics

Ensure accurate measurements with calibration

Twelve months ago, you might have been hard pressed to find someone who would have said the topic of the vaccine cold chain was top of mind — I suppose a pandemic can change that.

Recently in the Wall Street Journal, there was an article about the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer setting up its biggest ever vaccination distribution campaign; the article went into detail regarding how they are “preparing to ship billions of COVID-19 vaccines using frozen boxes, cargo planes and trucks in a mega logistical operation”.

Get ready for a vaccine

All indications suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are coming. Planning and preparation to deliver the vaccine to the end user uncompromised is underway with much of the preparation taking place to make sure the cold chain is unbroken. To ensure the safety of vaccines, they must be stored and shipped at the correct temperature, and data loggers must be used to prove the temperature has remained within specified and regulated temperatures.

Have you been thinking of how you are going to logistically keep your COVID-19 vaccines uncompromised when they arrive, or when you must transport them to another area of your facility or facilities? Does the temperature digital data logger (DDL) that you need to use measure temperature accurately? If you are pulling it off the shelf after many months of sitting there, or you’ve been using it for more than a year now, please read on.

Calibration is critical

Calibration is required because the instrument’s accuracy can drift causing inaccurate readings over time. When your instrument produces inaccurate readings, your vaccines can become compromised as they may be sitting in the wrong temperature range, even though you think the temperatures are fine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides calibration recommendations for temperature digital data loggers; specifically, that you send your digital data logger into an accredited metrology lab for calibration every one or two years, or according to the manufacturers’ suggested timeline. When you send your instrument for calibration, it must arrive back to you with a certificate of calibration. This proof of accuracy certificate should include:

  • Model/Device name or number
  • Serial number
  • Date of calibration (report or issue date)
  • Confirmation that the instrument passed testing
  • Recommended uncertainty of +/- 0.5° C (+/- 1° F)

See an example of the Traceable® Calibration Certificate.

To ensure that the Certificate of Calibration or Report of Calibration is reported by an appropriate entity, the certificate must indicate one or more of the following items about the calibration testing:

  • Conforms to ISO/IEC 17025 international standards
  • Performed by a laboratory accredited by ILAC/MRA signatory body
  • Traceable to the standards maintained by the NIST
  • Meets specifications and testing requirements for the ASTM Standard E2877 Tolerance Class F or higher

Find more on this topic at the <a style=”font-style: inherit;” href=”https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/admin/storage/toolkit/storage-handling-toolkit.pdf rel=”noopener”>CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit.

How do I calibrate my DDL?

You must send your instrument to an accredited metrology laboratory for calibration. (If you have a Traceable® temperature instrument, it is recommended you send your instrument for calibration every two years.)

InnoCal® Calibration Services is an A2LA-accredited metrology lab that can support the recalibration of all Traceable products, as well as other instrumentation.

Temperature check list

As you prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, here is a simplified check list to ensure you and your digital data loggers are ready to go when you are.

  • Is the vaccine being stored at the correct temperature?
  • Is the vaccine being shipped at the correct temperature?
  • Am I using the best digital data logger to measure temperature?
  • Does the digital data logger measure temperature accurately?

See the full line of Traceable® Temperature Data Loggers.

Read more about calibration.


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