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Summer Fridge Disaster and Vaccine Transportation

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Every year when the sunshine starts to appear in the UK, albeit briefly, and temperatures start to rise, clinical fridges start to feel the heat. The requests we have for urgent next day deliveries on fridges go through the roof as the mad dash to save hundreds of pounds of vaccines begins. In this article, I am going to look at the best ways of reducing the chance of disaster and what to do when it all goes wrong.

What kills my fridge?

The simplest way of making sure your fridge lasts and keeps vaccines in the golden temperature range (between 2°C and 8°C) is don’t overfill it. HealthProtection Scotland believes no more than half of a fridge should ever be filled with vaccines, and from our customer’s experiences, we tend to agree. The more surface area a fridge is trying to cool, the harder it is having to work and the more likely it is to fail. Further problems can occur when vaccines freeze due to poor air flow, which is an additional headache caused by over packing. Even something as innocent as leaving the fridge door open too long can cause issues.

What size of fridge works best?

The painful reality is that fridges are expensive pieces of equipment; the best way of ensuring you have a fridge that lasts is to source the largest one you can afford and fit in the surgery. Although this can be an expensive exercise, it works out much cheaper in the long run. Buying a 300l fridge will set you back around £1000, whereas a 150l fridge will set you back around £750. This means that if you need more space down the line you will be paying around 33% more for the same storage space.

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What to do when it goes wrong?

If you are lucky enough to have a built in data logger (such as with Labcold Fridges) or have purchased an additional logger to live in the fridge, the next steps become a lot easier. If not a risk assessment has to be carried out to work out how long the vaccines have been out of temperature. Risk assessments should be carried out if there has been a power cut, after noticing accidentally switched off plug or open fridge door. The best people to contact regarding the specifics are your local screening and immunisation team – there is no golden rule and it’s specific to manufacturers and type of vaccines. The key to keeping as many of the vaccines as possible after an incident is having a body of proof – data loggers will give you an hour by hour look at the temperature changes

Vaccine transportation

It is common for many surgeries to take vaccinations on home visits or inoculation days at schools or care homes; so, how do you maintain the cold chain out on the road? Depending on the quantity and budget there are many options, from portable fridges that run off a cigarette lighter to small cool bags. These portable options can also be utilised in an emergency to maintain the cool chain after a fridge breakdown as a stop gap until alternative arrangements can be made.

Cold Chain

Fridges and vaccines can be a nightmare to organise, but with a degree of forward planning ahead and with contingency plans in place, it can be kept under control. If you need any further information, comment or advice please do get in touch - alex.henman@esuppliesmedical.co.uk - 01865 261451

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