Don’t Risk the Vaccines! Secure Potency with Temperature Monitoring Now!
The development of COVID-19 vaccines is only one step in our fight against the pandemic. The more critical matter comes right after. After manufacturing a million doses, how are they going to get to people worldwide? A significant concern of vaccine facilities is how can they retain their potency up to the distribution to inoculate the masses. What measures in temperature monitoring should they take?
Many questions are surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Specific issues need answers. How will the distribution be? Who will get the vaccine first? Who is eligible for vaccination? But the most important one will be, how can we ensure the quality of vaccine? Not only does this pertain to logistical concerns. It also refers to the risk involved in COVID-19 vaccination. The smallest risk we can get, the better it is for everyone.
The good thing is we are not starting from scratch. The successes and failures of vaccine administration can help out etch a good plan for us in the past. Smallpox in 1803 is the first taste of humanity of a pandemic. Vaccine rollout is only done in the local setting. The logistical process is unsystematic when distributed beyond it. The 1955 polio pandemic has opened the realities of distributing quality vaccines. There are more than 250 children who received faulty vaccines. This is according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This issue paved the way for more regulatory requirements for vaccine rollout. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an earlier H1N1 flu strain came. This is also known as swine flu. It was fatal to pregnant women. This has paved the way for the assessment of risk groups. These experiences in the past provided a better vaccine strategy at present.
Vaccine Distribution at Present
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are efforts to distribute the vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) formed an Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. This is a worldwide association that enables access to COVID-19 vaccines. A COVAX facility guarantees that participating countries will have fair access to it. The WHO leads this COVAX facility through global collaboration. Nations all over the world have put forth funds for such facilities. The vaccine doses distribution will be as follows:
Vaccine allocation will cover 20% of a country’s population. The distribution will cover the at-risk groups.
Allocation considers the risk assessment of factors. This includes the country’s COVID-19 threat, health system, and population vulnerability.
It is important to note that such a model needs flexibility. At the most, assurance of a reliable distribution process is also crucial. The reliability of the process entails meeting standard guidelines.
Reliability of Temperature Monitoring System
Vaccines are very fragile commodities. Any wrong logistical process will lead to the degradation of its potency. The CDC outlines a vaccine safety program to limit errors and adverse reactions. One significant part of the safety program is vaccine handling and storage. As high-stakes products, vaccines have temperature needs. One element in the storage and handling of vaccines is the cold chain. A cold chain is a version of a supply chain that is temperature-controlled. It is specific for vaccine-related processes.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are necessary for developing and maintaining a cold chain. This includes guidelines on vaccine handling and storage. A general SOP should cover three crucial pieces of information:
These are information at face-value. This includes the contact information of all stakeholders, most especially the manufacturer. Information on staff training requirements and service providers covers the general datasheet.
Storage and Handling Information
The information includes vaccine inventory management. Information should apply to all levels of the vaccine distribution process. The processes include procurement to monitoring conditions. This also covers all transport documentation. The data is helpful for direct users.
Information about action steps necessary in emergencies. Information on procedures once natural disasters, power failures, and equipment malfunction occur.
Very crucial in the cold chain standard operating procedure is temperature monitoring. A cold chain facility maintained at optimal conditions will not compromise vaccine quality. Adequate temperature monitoring ensures that storage is up to the standards required. This is important to maintain a vaccine’s potency. Comprehensive monitoring documentation can report that there are no occurrences of temperature excursions. This document concludes that there is no risk in the vaccine in the future.
Importance of Temperature Sensors
Monitoring temperatures are more comfortable with temperature monitoring devices. An excellent example of one is a temperature sensor. The CDC recommends digital data loggers that have the following features:
- detachable probe reflecting vaccine temperature
- alarm for temperature excursions
- low-battery indicator
- temperature range display (current, lowest, and highest temperature)
- standard uncertainty at +/-0.5°C (+/-1°F)
- logging intervals
Temperature sensors are tangible devices that answer monitoring specifications. Wireless sensors installed in every vaccine storage are ideal. Furthermore, sensors programmed at a 30-minute interval are reliable documentation. A wireless sensor that connects to a gateway is an efficient way to access temperature data. A real-time data log ensures monitoring reliability. The AKCPro Server is capable of live central monitoring. Installing wireless temperature sensors can supplement the server as well. Live data relay via smart-phone or accessible interface provides a for relevant stakeholders.
Monitoring Vaccine Temperature
Vaccine temperature monitoring is a consistent activity onwards a successful inoculation. Some manufacturers provide guidelines on routine monitoring to prevent any possible issues. Thus, a constant regular monitoring activity is a must. The importance of systematic monitoring eases the identification of possible temperature excursions. The activity also makes way for action steps to standardize storage parameters. If routine monitoring is consistent, specific issues are easy to track.
Handling Temperature Excursions
A fluctuating storage temperature is terrible for vaccines. They are sensitive to any temperature change. A change beyond the standard parameters is problematic. In the event of temperature excursions, some standard documentation should ensure:
- date and time of temperature excursion
- action steps made (provide a narrative on who you contacted and instructions given)
- temperature range log (how far beyond the temperature range was the excursion)
- direct effect on the vaccine and probable actions made (discard, returned, manufacturer’s recommendation)
- other notes
Manufacturers can relay sound advice. This is dependent on the amount of documentation one can provide. Information on temperature issues must be consistent and in real-time. This way, recommendations will be apt and in time as well.
Beyond the usability of sensors, it is also a tool in tracking temperature excursions. With a warning feature, it can send notifications to users. An instantaneous relay of this information can prompt fast and better issue resolve. The data log makes sure that at regular intervals temperature range is constant. Tracking fluctuations is more straightforward and recognizable.
A defect in a storage unit can increase the risk for your vaccines. So, any deficiency can elicit further temperature excursion. Regular maintenance of these units can keep your equipment in good operational condition.
Specific monitoring devices are also recommended for medical-grade storage equipment. These devices are aids in better routine maintenance. Devices such as humidity and power sensors can check maintenance-related functions. Apart from temperature, environmental monitoring is also a comprehensive tracking process. Environmental monitoring extends the usable life of your storage equipment.
One troubleshooting dilemma for users is adjusting storage unit temperatures. Over time, storage temperature needs calibration. The seasonal change signals that temperatures should also adjust. If there are alarms, it indicates the need to re-adjust temperature conditions. The temperature sensors can also be helpful in readjustment. Specific temperature sensors with built-in calibration checks help prompt temperature adjustments. The AKCPro’s wireless tunnel NIST2 sensor that functions as a pair of sensors. Each pair checks each other values a second for accuracy. These features can help determine the need for recalibration.
The Needs Of Future
The current mRNA vaccine technology is extraordinary. The only downside is the temperature need is very low. A lot of experts say that the COVID-19 vaccine can revolutionize cold storage. True enough, modern cold storage is a stark reality for all.
Vaccines have relied on cold storage for the longest time. It is only until recently that we focus on the need for it. A whole lot of effort goes to facilitating cold storage that can cater to over a million doses. This is because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have particular temperature needs. In any scenario, a temperature-reliant facility should harness its developments. Harnessing it can address the pressing needs. The expansion of a global cold chain to allow the distribution to all parts of the world is necessary.
But along with the development of the vaccine, the mutation of the virus is also evident. Moreover, there will be more potential pandemics in the future. This calls for a long-term strategy for cold chains. The vaccines will develop along with continuous innovation in the cold chain. They are the very medium for vaccines to get to recipients. These innovations are large in scale. From a granular perspective, innovations in monitoring devices should also push forward. This is the way to supplement a long-term cold chain strategy.
Along with the cold-chain expansion is the development of monitoring tools. This is our little way of contributing. To make sure we maintain the vaccines’ temperature conditions. This our way of keeping its quality. And our way to help fight the pandemic.