Vaccine Storage and Safety (Guest Blog and Survey)

The message comes from Robin Warner, who has some important things to say about vaccine refrigerators.  I know I must seem a little vaccine-focused lately, but these issues are vital and I am grateful for the work of Dr. Warner and Dr. Barden.


This past weekend, I had the good fortune of being able to staff the AAP’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Booth with the vaccine storage and handling guru, Graham Barden. While many of you saw the finished product at our booth, none saw the hard work leading up to it that I did.

I learned from Graham that, not too many years ago, he was a non-believer when it came to vaccine refrigerators working more efficiently than domestic ones, with regard to storing vaccines at a consistent, predictable temperature. In fact, he spent some time, and did quite a few experiments, to try to “prove” that domestics were equal. He failed. The rest, is history.

Graham arrived at the exhibit hall Friday afternoon, with a backpack, and two large plastic bins full of information. This is in addition to the box (or two) that he shipped in advance. Chip has included some of the most pertinent information, from Graham, in his blog already, but Graham covered everything……and then some.

As I now have time to reflect on the weekend, I am struck by the following. With regard to concern for vaccine storage and handling, international attendees are MUCH more concerned about maintaining vaccine viability than we in the US are. Given that many were from third world countries, this was understandable. And, in many cases, Graham had answers for them, and they were eternally grateful! At least two physicians who stopped by told stories of how their refrigerator temperatures were found to be out of range to the point that they had to a) recall patients and re-vaccinate, and b) pay for those vaccines which were out of range. I can only imagine the money and staff time spent to do this, not to mention the questions from the parents. After Chip’s talk on “The Hidden Costs of Vaccines”, many attendees stopped by, and there was renewed interest in the point of service/do it all units, manufactured by TruMed and MinibarRx.

On the positive side, more and more physicians are slowly starting to “get” the importance of ensuring that vaccines stay viable by handling and storing them appropriately. However, there were several who visited, and said, without a doubt, they had no intention of purchasing a vaccine refrigerator until they were “forced” to do so. That……is disappointing.

Our booth participation ended with a visit from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). The principal researcher for the NSF study group defining the “vaccine refrigerator” paid us a visit. Their current research involves defining the “normal range” of vaccine refrigerator use, and, specifically, how often the door is open, and how long it is open each time. Graham, Christoph Diasio, and I have volunteered, but she needs about ten more participants. It doesn’t matter if you have a vaccine fridge or domestic one, as temperature monitoring isn’t the goal for this particular study. If you want to help out, let me know.

In closing, we’d like to know where to go from here. And, to do that, we have created a survey. We are trying to learn what the present refrigerator status is out in the wild.  5 minutes and a few clicks will help us a lot.  Thank you.

Take the vaccine fridge survey…

3 replies
  1. chiphart
    chiphart says:

    Look at this AMAZING additional comment I got from Dr. Barden:

    “From: Dr. Graham Barden
    Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2015 4:44 PM
    Subject: Let Merck buy you a new Refrigerator!

    Merck wants to give you money!

    Not really – they want to take more from you. But that creates a wrinkle in the Time/Money Continuum, and those who have a little extra safe vaccine storage space can use this wrinkle to save you money in the months ahead. Everyone who has private vaccine should be a member of a Vaccine Buyer’s group, and if you are, you know you have until maybe 12/20 to place a LARGE order with Merck and save enough money to buy all of those fancy new refrigerators I keep talking about.

    If you were nervous for ICD-10 and had a line of credit opened up at your bank, you may want to use it – HPV is going up $13+ and Varivax is going up almost $7. If you have sufficient safe storage in a refrigerator AND freezer and can purchase a few months extra, you will have extra money to buy the equipment you need… And if you do not need more refrigerators, it can pay for more toys!

    The numbers I have are approximate. I have used the approx percent change I will see from my contract and plugged that into the hopefully slightly higher CDC number.

    Take a look and see if you can save some money!

    If you are primarily Medicaid or a universal state, you can’t get much – just be happy you are not facing a price increase!


  2. robinmwarner
    robinmwarner says:

    Don’t forget to add Flu vaccine in when you’re doing your spreadsheet, as well as any adult Hep A you may have. Neither are listed on the spreadsheet. I just completed the spreadsheet, and Graham has made doing these calculations very easy.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Two months ago, the Fridge Militia (as I like to call them) was interested in getting some sense of the state of immunization vaccine refrigerators. How many practices actually use medical quality equipment?  How common are generators?  How many doctors actually have two-way communication with their valuable resources?  The improvement of vaccine storage is an overlooked, yet incredibly important, aspect of pediatric healthcare delivery and I applaud the effort of the AAP, Dr. Barden, and Dr. Warner. […]

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