How to Safely Store Vaccines for the 2020-2021 Flu Season

As the cold weather rolls in, health experts in the United States are encouraging people to get flu shots. The influenza virus mimics many of the symptoms of COVID-19 and is problematic for multiple reasons:

  • More people will have to get tested for COVID-19, which uses up valuable testing kits and resources.
  • The convergence of the second wave of COVID-19 and the surge of flu cases could overwhelm the healthcare system.
  • People with the flu have a compromised respiratory system, which raises their risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. 

The timely delivery of flu vaccines is essential for preventing these disastrous outcomes. Every year, mishandling results in thousands of wasted vaccines.

This year, healthcare companies and pharma manufacturers need to be more careful regarding flu vaccine storage, handling, and transportation.

Here are some recommendations for safe handling from the CDC:

Using pharmaceutical-grade refrigeration units

While you maybe tempted to use residential-grade units for pharmaceutical products, it’s essential to use pharmaceutical-grade freezer and refrigeration units. These are designed specifically for the storage of biologics, including vaccines.

They ensure fast temperature recovery and maintain a uniform temperature throughout for effective cooling.

Use a Digital Data Logger (DDL)

Temperature monitoring devices are a part of Temperature Monitoring Devices (TMD) in most modern pharmaceutical-grade cooling units. However, the CDC recommends the use of a specific TMD known as the Digital Data Logger (DDL).

This includes a buffered temperature probe that shows the actual temperature of vaccines instead of just air temperature.

Power Supply Precautions

Appropriate care must be taken to protect the power supply of each storage unit. The CDC recommends:

    • Plugging only one storage unit per electrical outlet to avoid overloading the power supply
    • Placing ‘DO NOT UNPLUG’ signs near all outlets with storage units connected to them
    • Using an outlet cover or safety-lock plug to prevent people from unplugging the unit.

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