These days, we’re all familiar with the importance of vaccines. You can read about the success rates of different vaccines and get a certain peace-of-mind. However, as the vaccines move down the supply chain from the production or primary storage facility, the vaccines can lose some of their potency—largely due to temperature abuses the vaccines experience. The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a “Temperature monitoring study: a fully documented process to detect weaknesses in the supply chain” showing why effective temperature monitoring is critical.
According to WHO, studies in both the industrialized and developing countries have shown that vaccines are commonly exposed to damaging temperature—not only excessive heat but also low, sub-zero temperatures that greatly reduce the vaccine potency. Per the WHO Vaccine Management Handbook, the simplest way to identify these vaccine risks is to conduct a systematic temperature monitoring study of the entire vaccine supply chain. This WHO study provides supply chain managers in low- and middle-income countries with temperature monitoring results that show potential temperature abuse risks throughout the different segments of the supply chain.
Examples in the study show the proportion of time spent in the key temperature zones tested during nine defined segments of the supply chain. This time data is used to determine where and for how long the vaccines suffered from temperature abuse. Supply chain segment temperature data ranges from the first storage facility to transit to the regional store down thru storage and transit to and from the district store, health facility and outreach. In one example, the vaccine shipment was exposed to overheating or freezing over 50 percent of the time in four of the nine supply chain segments. Overall, the studies showed that temperature control gets worse the further the shipment moves down the supply chain.
Large investments are made in vaccine acquisition, but the WHO studies have shown that for these vaccines to maintain their potency, temperature monitoring is imperative.
DeltaTrak has a family of real-time data loggers that not only monitor temperature but can also monitor humidity, light and shock, depending on the FlashLink Real Time Logger model used. These data loggers also monitor the data in real-time to enable immediate management decisions and problem solving.
You can also read the full WHO Study on Temperature Monitoring.