If you deal with vaccines, you must ensure that you store and handle them properly to prevent damage. In this context, it is sensible to bring forth what the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) said– “Vaccine quality is the shared responsibility of everyone, from the time vaccine is manufactured until it is administered.”
The storage process is called the Cold Chain that provides the right storage environment for vaccines. It is only with the proper storage and handling of vaccines; you can protect people from preventable diseases.
Why is the Right Temperature Environment Important?
The right temperature is the key to the proper storage of vaccines. Most vaccines are sensitive to temperature and ultraviolet light. If you do not store them properly, they will lose effectiveness and can become completely useless. While cold storage is imperative to store vaccines, extreme cold temperatures can also be harmful. Keep in mind that when you store vaccines at an excessively cold temperature, it might kill the constituent antigens, and that can erode the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Will an Affected Vaccine Harm Patients?
It might so happen that you might accidentally damage your vaccines, and in such a case, you should know if the damaged vaccines can harm patients.
The good news is that the patient you administer a damaged vaccine will not become ill or injured. But, the patient will not get protection from the disease you vaccinate against a damaged vaccine.
As an example, consider the DTaP vaccine, formulated to protect patients from Diphtheria (D), Tetanus (T), and Pertussis (aP). The vaccine needs to be stored carefully within 2 degrees and 8 degrees Centigrade.
As you know that Tetanus is a very painful disease that is caused by a toxin produced by bacteria. The condition usually locks a person’s neck and jaw muscles rendering it difficult for the person to open mouth, breathe easily, or swallow. It can also be deadly apart from severe pain.
Although an ineffective TDaP vaccine will not harm your patients, there will be a risk of them getting exposed to the disease. In that case, you will become the scapegoat as you will be held responsible for their exposure and subsequent hospitalization.
You should therefore avoid such eventualities as you can even face medical malpractice cases against you. Ensure that you train your staff about proper vaccination storage and handling.
Best Vaccine Storage Temperature Range
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should keep your vaccine storage refrigerator at 40 degrees F.
Adopt careful practices while storing vaccines. Ensure that you shore vaccines in the original packaging to shield them from ultraviolet light and avoid mix-ups. And do not overcrowd the vaccines inside the refrigerator. Allow some space for air circulation.
- In addition to safely storing vaccines, adhere to some best practices to take your patients’ best care.
Once your staff opens a vaccine, it should be used immediately, or else it will lose its potency
Dispose of the vaccines with expiry dates getting over
What to Do With Unused Vaccines?
Never throw away unused vaccines as it can pose a danger to the community. Unused vaccines contain living pathogens that can be hazardous to people. As such, follow the federal and state dangerous waste disposal regulations.
You now know that careful storing and handling vaccines are imperative to retain their intrinsic value. So, do not fall behind following the procedures outlined in this article.