Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its list of the top 10 threats to global health, a sobering catalogue of population health challenges ranging from cancer and dengue to climate change. Sadly, not many of these threats come as a surprise; we’ve been battling against them for years. What is surprising is the newest addition to this year’s list, vaccine hesitancy, which has led to preventable diseases, like measles and diphtheria, once again reaching near-pandemic status.
The Threat of Vaccine Hesitancy
In the course of a few months, we’ve seen an uptick in measles cases in multiple states and signs of the disease beginning to spread throughout the Philippines, Japan, Brazil, and across several European nations, such as France and Romania. The issue has grown so dire in the U.S. that congress has had to get involved to examine what response efforts might be necessary and what’s causing this growing public health threat in the first place.
According to the WHO, this surge in cases of vaccine-preventable illnesses is due, at least in part, to vaccine hesitancy, a complex issue with many root causes. Among them however, is a lack of confidence in vaccinations. Many patients today are skeptical of vaccinations, and as reports of incidents of patients being administered potentially ineffective vaccines grow, alongside a wealth of misinformation related to vaccines, it’s making it harder to get people in the door for their shots.
Creating Confidence in Care
Healthcare providers must show patients that they are doing everything possible to ensure their vaccines are kept safe and viable. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy to do – especially when it comes to private practices treating patients outside of government-regulated programs like the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Without the impetus of government oversight, some organizations may not be giving their vaccine storage and care practices the attention and modernizations they require to safeguard vaccines.
In fact, a study from the US Department of Health and Human Services found that out of the 45 vaccine providers they monitored, none were meeting all established vaccine storage requirements, and 76 percent of the providers were exposing vaccines to inappropriate temperatures at some point before they were administered.
Despite the fact that vaccines are highly-sensitive formulations that must be stored within a very specific temperature range, many facilities are still utilizing residential and dormitory-style refrigeration units to protect them. Have you ever reached into your fridge and found your drink was too warm or completely frozen? These types of extreme temperature fluctuations, while a mere hindrance on our lunch break, can render a vaccination ineffective.
The Thermo Fisher Scientific Difference
Thermo Fisher’s line of vaccine storage solutions are purpose-built to support the storage of vaccines across a variety of medical applications and environments, so you can be sure your vaccine is protected up to the point of administration. With sizes ranging from small bench top units to full-height freestanding models, our portfolio of medical-grade refrigerators and freezers offers an array of unique features and benefits engineered for your specific sample type and work environment, including:
- Precision temperature control – Our high-performance refrigerators and freezers have a time- and temperature-sensitive defrost to keep vaccines within their required temperature range.
- Temperature uniformity – Thermo Scientific’s TSX series of lab refrigerators and freezers use variable speed compressor or V-drive technology to ensure a uniform temperature throughout the unit that continuously adapts based on user patterns, such as door openings and closing.
- Wireless monitoring and data logging – An accurate temperature history and continuous monitoring of temperatures is critical to protecting vaccinations and are required by initiatives such as the VFC program. Our pharmaceutical-grade solutions utilize microprocessor-based temperature control and come equipped with a digital temperature sensor (thermocouple, resistance temperature detector (RTD), or thermistor). What’s more, we also offer the Smart-Vue wireless monitoring system, designed to measure and log performance data across multiple refrigerators and freezers simultaneously, and the Smart-TrackerTM Wireless Datalogger, capable of providing remote temperature readings of samples in storage or transit via a wireless app, without the need for docking stations or computer installations.
- Remote Alerts – Our wireless monitoring systems immediately alert healthcare providers of temperature changes in the event of a power outage or mechanical failure.
With the FDA possibly stepping in to help curb the rampant measles outbreaks, we’re likely to see vaccine safety regulations begin to tighten and more accountability be placed on both public and private providers. While the CDC has issued guidelines aimed at safeguarding vaccines stored in non-purpose-built units, there are more surefire steps you can take to ensure your vaccines remain at their optimal efficiency. Now is the time to get ahead of the regulations coming down the pike, so compliance can be achieved seamlessly without disruption to operations or patient care – and it starts with your cooling practices.
Learn more about our pharmaceutical-grade refrigerators and freezers at www.thermofisher.com/vaccinestorage or contact us directly. Be sure to ask about our special introductory pricing on select Thermo Scientific refrigerators!