Prior to 2020, vaccine storage was, frankly, not too much of a hot topic. But — as absolutely everyone in the world knows — COVID changed that, and much more.
Best Practices for Safely Storing Vaccines
Right now, even the layperson understands that vaccine storage, handling, and distribution is a singular undertaking, a cold chain like no other, with some vaccines requiring sub-zero storage temperatures (e.g., Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, which must be stored at -70 Celsius — colder than an arctic winter), others needing merely to be kept “refrigerator” cold.
If you’re a vaccine manufacturer or distributor, here are some of the “cold facts” you should be considering:
- What types of vaccine storage units are required? Single vs dual compressor? -4C, -20C, -80C?
- What are the recovery times for your storage units?
- How are you calibrating temperature sensors?
- What about mitigating factors in your facility or lab (HVAC, leaks, etc.)?
(We’re happy to help answer these questions and more: just contact us)
There’s another piece in ensuring best practices are met and kept during vaccine storage, and that piece is security. And security needs often — rather, ALWAYS — extend beyond the lab itself. Essentially, security is required in every step of your cold chain: from manufacturing, to distribution vehicles and storage facilities, to pharmacies and health care sites.
Who are the players in your cold chain? How often are the shipments “touched?” What kinds of storage units are being used during transport? A single lapse in security can create a ripple effect in the cold chain that will most certainly have a human cost.
Vaccine Storage Mistakes Have Financial and Human Costs
In most industries, a mistake in storage — such as pallets of inventory going missing, or a consumable spoiling — usually means lost revenue and some unhappy customers.
In vaccine storage, however, undetected errors can lead to more critical issues, such as diminished potency, and being forced to discard entire product shipments, which means lost revenue and could mean lost lives.
Unless you’re precisely, proactively, and constantly monitoring your storage systems, you could experience something such as a slight decline in temperature or other error that reduces efficacy. And while keeping an equipment logbook tracking installation dates, maintenance dates, etc. is helpful, it’s more reactive than proactive.
Staying Ahead of Challenges Beats Merely Staying "on Top" of Them
The good news is that the challenges tied to vaccine storage are, for the most part, well-known and there are tools and services to help you address each and every one.
For example, there are purpose-built and portable pharmaceutical-grade storage units designed specifically for vaccines and therapeutics, and most come equipped with temperature monitoring devices (TMD) as well.
If you’re not using TMD-enabled equipment, now’s the time. The CDC makes one of many perfect cases for TMD devices for vaccines, stating “Investing in a reliable [TMD] device is less expensive than replacing vaccines wasted due to the loss of potency that comes from storage at out-of-range temperatures.”
There are new systems and platforms to help automate monitoring tasks, and to create a path for preventative maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. Calendared maintenance, to be blunt, was never worth much at all (as most units don’t “schedule” when something might go wrong).
These systems and platforms are now available to most every company that needs them. The best part? They no longer require a massive investment in infrastructure, or a new hire, etc.
XiltriX is the first and only company to offer “lab monitoring as a service.” From storage freezers to facilities to lab equipment, we ensure systems, services, and solutions are running smoothly, securely, and optimally, while keeping costs both manageable and predictable.
We understand that vaccine storage is more than just a step in the cold chain — it’s now often a step in someone’s lifeline. We ensure that our clients have every tool and data-set available to optimize and secure vaccine storage practices, processes, and facilities.
XiltriX North America leverages industrial-grade hardware, a user-friendly cloud-based software platform, and 30 years of experience in life science environments to provide a high value-added service to organizations of any size. Integrating outputs from both equipment and environmental conditions in real-time and leveraging state-of-the-art sensors, XiltriX provides a holistic view of your facility, proactively addressing issues before they become catastrophes.
Request a demo today and learn how XiltriX can provide you with complete peace-of-mind.