Flu Vaccine Refrigeration: Improve Patients’ Safety and Reduce Your Risk

June 13, 2019

It’s that time of year again.

Summer is unofficially over, the kids are back to school, and flu season is just around the corner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults and children older than six months receive a flu vaccine by the end of October 2018. Getting vaccinated before the flu season is underway offers the best protection, and the shot will still be effective through the spring.

For many healthcare providers, clinics and pharmacies, the current calm before the vaccination storm is an ideal time for a refresher on flu vaccine storage guidelines and considerations. Last September, the CDC released a video to inform pharmacists and other healthcare professionals about flu vaccine refrigeration and safe storage.

In the video, a CDC nurse educator notes that providers should store flu vaccines between 2-8 °C “in purpose-built units specifically designed for the storage of biologics.”

Unfortunately, many conventional medical grade refrigerators fail to maintain such a tight temperature range for the following reasons:

  • Compressor-based refrigerators oscillate as much as 5°C, creating ongoing temperature fluctuations that can damage or destroy vaccines. Frequent door openings (which are a common occurrence during busy times for flu vaccinations) can further increase fluctuations and cause the cabinet temperature to rise above the recommended range.
  • Inadvertent freezing is the most prevalent danger to vaccines stored in a compressor-based refrigerator. Freezing destroys active ingredients, posing a risk to patient safety.
  • A common problem for compressor-based refrigerators is poor uniformity throughout the chamber. The CDC even suggests blocking the top and bottom shelves with water bottles to avoid the placement of vaccines in high-risk areas. This approach also limits the overall storage capacity of the fridge.

Failure to comply with flu vaccine storage guidelines not only puts patients at risk for receiving an ineffective vaccine, but it can also impact patient confidence levels and a facility’s reputation. As the DC VA Medical Center recently learned, news spreads quickly and refrigeration failures can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in spoiled flu vaccines.

If you’re worried that your vaccine refrigerator won’t hold up (or hold the right temperatures) through the busy flu vaccine season, it’s not too late to make a change. Phononic solid state medical grade refrigerators deliver superior temperature uniformity, so you no longer need to worry about limiting vaccine storage to the middle rack. Our technology enables constant monitoring and real-time adjustment to maintain a tight oscillating temperature range of only 0.5°C. If you want to learn more about medical-grade, solid state refrigeration for better temperature stability and protection of your vaccines, connect with our healthcare team.