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Vaccine Storage and Safety (Guest Blog and Survey)

November 04, 2015 / 2 Comments / in Editorial / by Chip Hart

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...

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