The CDC’s Vaccine Storage & Handling Tool Kit is an excellent resource for planning appropriate medication storage. The following tips are drawn from this document, which is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/admin/storage/toolkit/storage-handling-toolkit.pdf.
Avoid Device Drift
All temperature-monitoring devices experience drift over time that can affect accuracy. When traceability and calibration testing is required, CDC advocates one of the following approaches:
If calibration testing indicates that the temperature-monitoring device is no longer accurate within +/- 1°F (+/- 0.5°C), then it must be replaced. Making adjustments to correct the accuracy of devices is not recommended.
When a temperature-monitoring device is dropped or otherwise damaged, CDC recommends that, at a minimum, the device be checked for accuracy against a known calibrated device, as mishandling can affect accuracy. If there is any doubt as to the device’s accuracy, have testing performed or purchase a new device.
Continuous Monitoring Devices
CDC recommends using a continuous monitoring device for each storage unit, as these devices provide information detailing the length of time a unit has operated outside of the recommended vaccine storage temperature and identifies when the excursion occurred. Based on studies conducted by NIST, CDC recommends devices with the follow characteristics:
It is prudent to have a backup temperature-monitoring device for use in the event that the primary device is damaged or must be sent to a laboratory for calibration testing. The backup device should have the same setup as the primary device (ie, probe in buffer, such as glycol). In addition, it should have a calibration-testing schedule that is different from the primary device so that it is available when the primary is sent for testing.
Some state immunization programs require VFC providers to have a backup thermometer. Contact the state immunization program for specific requirements.
Jennifer Karpinski is a senior editor at Pharmacy Purchasing & Products magazine, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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