Physicians, government agencies, school systems, child care centers and pharmacists all make recommendations and requirements to various groups of people for getting vaccinated. When you arrive at the clinic or office of a health care provider, you are expressing trust in them that they have handled the vaccines properly. Inadequate vaccine storage and handling can render the vaccine less effective or even useless, thereby putting you at risk of disease. Understanding the standards for proper vaccine management can help you choose your health services wisely.
Proper Vaccine Storage
Federal health authorities in the United States have developed protocols for proper vaccine storage. These protocols are in use throughout North America and the rest of the world. The vaccine storage guidelines include the following:
- Refrigerated vaccines should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Frozen vaccines should be stored at a temperature range of -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Refrigerator and freezer temperatures should be recorded twice a day, in the morning and at night.
- If the refrigerator or freezer temperature is ever out of range, local health authorities or the vaccine manufacturer should be contacted. They will need to know the duration of time the vaccine spent out of the ideal temperature range.
Vaccine Handling Standards
Once a vaccine is taken out of its storage area, it needs to be handled properly. This includes maintaining a cold chain as well as other factors, including:
- Keeping portable vaccine containers shut as much as possible
- Using gel packs or frozen water bottles when transporting vaccines off-site
- Using motorized portable refrigerator units for vaccine storage when out in the field
- Using a calibrated thermometer to check temperatures of vaccine when off-site
- Rotating vaccine supplies to avoid expiration of expensive vaccines or accidental administration of expired vaccine
- Properly reconstituting and distributing multi-dose vaccine vials
- Transporting vaccines in the vehicle’s passenger cabin rather than the trunk
- Avoiding the use of dry ice when transporting vaccine
- Placing vaccine into a recommended storage unit as soon as possible after transportation
How to Make Sure the Vaccines You Receive Were Handled Properly
When you’re getting a vaccine, you have the right to know how it was stored and handled. You may want to ask to see the temperature logs or the expiration date of the product. You may also inquire about the calibration of the thermometer used to take the temperature in the storage unit. Other questions to ask include whether there is a backup power supply in case of loss of electricity, what is done with vaccines that experience a temperature excursion, and the maintenance record of the refrigerator or freezer where the vaccine was stored.
Before you embark on an international trip, travel vaccinations can help you develop immunity to infectious and contagious diseases endemic or in the process of an outbreak at your destination. Passport Health travel health clinics offer vaccinations to international travelers. The travel health specialists adhere to national guidelines for proper vaccine handling and storage, so you can rest assured knowing the vaccine you receive is effective and safe. Passport Health travel health specialists also offer guidance on packing first aid supplies, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, over-the-counter and prescription medications, and water purification kits to help you stay healthy during your travels.