Recently significant and worrying cold chain breach reports have been reported to the Department of Health, Immunisation Unit. Immunisation providers have reported and actioned these cold chain breach events, however, these reports have identified a potentially broader lack of cold chain management requirements and practices.
Key issues include:
- Untrained staff being responsible for cold chain management
- Incorrect use of vaccine storage equipment – for example failure to correctly reset min/max temperature displays, data loggers not set to read at 5-minute intervals, data loggers not routinely downloaded weekly or more frequently if a temperature excursion is identified
- Inadequate vaccine storage equipment – for example, use of bar or domestic fridge instead of the required purpose-built vaccine fridge, vaccine fridges not being serviced annually, data loggers not working, data logger batteries not replaced in a timely manner.
With the imminent influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine rollout, please ensure all staff (current and new) involved with vaccine storage management have the skills, knowledge and training to manage vaccines appropriately and to identify and report cold chain breach events.
Immunisation providers are responsible for correct equipment and procedures and all staff are trained.
Current guidelines vaccine cold chain and training resources are available:
- National vaccine storage guidelines – strive for five resource collection
- Immunisation website – cold chain management and webinar training tool
- Conduct a vaccine storage self-audit– National vaccine storage guidelines – strive for five – Appendix 2
Vaccines are expensive and fragile biological substances. Vaccine providers have a duty of care to store and administer effective vaccines. Effective cold chain management is an essential component of vaccine delivery. In order to minimise vaccine preventable disease in our community and the potential need to recall patients for revaccination, it is important to be aware of and compliant with the practices and procedures that ensure our vaccines are effective and that vaccine recipients do not inadvertently receive a temperature affected, ineffective vaccine.
Thank you for your cooperation with ensuring vaccine cold chain management is effective.
Please circulate this information with relevant staff.
Disclaimer: This article was provided by Immunisation Unit, Victorian Department of Health. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.