Monitoring the cold chain is critical for vaccine safety
During the 2020-2021 flu season, approximately 198.8 million vaccines were distributed in the United States. Approximately 10 million MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) vaccines are distributed each year. So far in 2021, approximately 417.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, with more being distributed each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a staggering number of vaccines and a logistical challenge to effectively move that volume of vaccine from the manufacturer to the patient. So how is it done effectively?
If you remember, the term cold chain was trending last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many news outlets and social media feeds were educating us on temperature-controlled distribution of vaccines, the challenges with ultralow-temperature distribution of mRNA vaccines, and the huge volume that needed to move through the cold chain successfully, if we wanted to get the pandemic under control. While the public was made more aware of this critical supply chain, those of you working in the industry were already deep in the middle of a crucial and challenging time. You understand the challenges that faced you then and may still face you today. We also understand the challenges you face, particularly when it comes to monitoring your vaccine cold chain. Here is a good resource and tools to help you succeed.
Guide for handling vaccines and cold chain monitoring
The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit is a reliable resource. This 64-page document distributed by the CDC offers detailed guidance for handling vaccines. It is updated regularly with new information as it becomes available. A crucial component in the temperature-controlled distribution of vaccines is the ability to measure and record temperature when shipping, handling, and storing vaccines. This toolkit provides specific information on this point. For example, here is a paragraph taken from page 50 of the guide:
It is essential for each vaccine storage unit to have a temperature monitoring device (TMD) to ensure that vaccines are stored within the correct temperature range. CDC requires a specific type of TMD called a “digital data logger” (DDL) to monitor COVID-19 vaccines. A DDL provides the most accurate storage unit temperature information, including details on how long a unit has been operating outside the recommended temperature range (referred to as a “temperature excursion”). DDLs using a buffered temperature probe provide the most accurate way to measure actual vaccine temperatures. Always use DDLs with a current and valid Certificate of Calibration Testing. Note that not all DDLs can measure ultra-cold temperatures.
Data loggers that meet CDC guidelines
Many products in the market can monitor the environment of vaccines but not all meet CDC recommendations. The Traceable® brand, particularly the Traceable Excursion-Trac™ Refrigerator/Freezer Data Logging Thermometer, has been designed to meet the CDC recommendations outlined in the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit.
The Excursion-Trac™ Data Logging Thermometer allows you to easily monitor temperatures 24/7 and includes many useful features you can rely on. Minimum and maximum temperatures are stored until the memory is cleared. You can set high and low alarms in 1° increments. The alarm sounds when the temperature rises above or falls below set points. The alarm tracking feature stores data for up to 10 different alarm events detailing when the alarm state occurred, as well as when the unit returned within range. An alarm state indicator includes visual LEDs, audio alerts, and flashing LCD segments. You can also transfer the data recorded in a CSV format to any computer via a USB flash drive, and no software is required. Then you can simply clear memory after downloading data to a USB drive. The unit will continue to record new data while downloading the old data. The rolling memory retains most recent 525,600 temperature observations.
The Traceable data logger difference
Many Traceable products, including the Excursion-Trac, have an individually numbered Traceable Certificate provided with each unit that assures accuracy from an ISO/IEC 17025:2017(1750.01) calibration laboratory accredited by A2LA. It indicates traceability of measurements to the SI units through NIST or other recognized national measurement institutes (NMI) that are signatories to the CIPM Mutual Recognition Agreement. Each product goes through an intense vetting process before it can carry the Traceable name, saving you both time and money by not having to calibrate separately.
With flu season upon us, continued vaccination of the population, and the addition of COVID-19 booster shots, the unprecedented volumes of vaccine distribution will continue into 2022. Although you may not hear much about the cold chain in the news these days, adhering to CDC guidelines and monitoring with reliable data loggers is essential for your success.
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