For many, the release of the first Covid-19 vaccines was seen as the beginning of global recovery. Although these vaccines are still new, studies indicate that they have the ability to provide lasting immunity against the Covid-19. After enough people have been vaccinated, the herd immunity will allow the world to begin to return to normal. However, with so many people on the planet, vaccinating everyone against this deadly virus will take time. In order to ensure that the vaccination process occurs as quickly as possible, it is important for anyone involved in this process to understand how the vaccine works, how it must be administered and how it must be stored before it is used.
About the Vaccines
At this time, only the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been approved for use in the general population. Vaccines from other manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson, are all close to being approved but are still in the testing phase.
Both the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine use mRNA technology to provide immunity against Covid-19. When injected into the body, this mRNA activates the immune system and conditions it to recognize the virus' surface protein as an invader.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is believed to be the next vaccine to gain approval, uses a different technology. This vaccine contains an adenovirus that carries the genetic code for the Covid-19 spike protein. As the adenovirus replicates, the proteins replicate as well. As the immune system fights this harmless adenovirus, it will also learn to recognize the Covid-19 spike protein as a foreign invader.
The Importance of Proper Handling
Even with multiple companies currently producing the Covid 19 vaccine, there is still a significant shortage of the number of doses needed to vaccinate everyone against this virus. When the vaccine is not handled properly, the quality of the vaccine suffers, which may impact both safety and effectiveness. For this reason, it is important for anyone who stores or transports the Covid-19 vaccine to adhere to specific guidelines with regard to the vaccine's handling.
The storage requirements for the Covid-19 vaccine differ according to the manufacturer. For the Pfizer vaccine, doses arrive in a thermal shipping container with dry ice. The temperature of the vaccine at arrival will be around -80°C. The vaccine should then be stored in an ultra-cold freezer that is capable of maintaining the same temperature. Doses of the Pfizer vaccine can remain in appropriate vaccine freezers up until their expiration date. Before use, the vaccine must be thawed and kept in a vaccine refrigerator. Vaccine refrigerators should maintain a temperature between 2⁰C and 8⁰C. The vaccine can remain in the refrigerator for up to five days.
The Moderna Vaccine will arrive frozen, usually between the temperatures of -25°C and -15°C. The vaccine can be kept in the freezer within this temperature range until its expiration. After thawing the vaccine, it can be moved to a vaccine refrigerator that maintains a temperature between 2°C and 8°C. The vaccine can be kept refrigerated for up to 30 days before use or disposal.
The Covid-19 vaccines present unique problems with regard to storage and handling. Each of these vaccines has different requirements that must be considered and followed in order to ensure vaccine quality. For example, the recommended storage temperatures for the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine are different, so these two vaccines cannot be stored in the same environment. In addition, the recommended storage temperatures for these vaccines also differ from other vaccines that could be stored in the same facility, thus requiring careful consideration when selecting and using storage equipment. Failing to store these vaccines properly leads to a number of negative consequences, including:
- Vaccine waste because of improper handling, lack of proper equipment or lack of capacity for delivered doses.
- Increased chances of vaccine spoilage.
- Delays in vaccination of the general population.
- More lives lost to Covid-19.
When preparing to store doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, it is important for pharmacies and other such facilities to invest in customized vaccine cold chain equipment. The equipment chosen should be matched to the vaccine's storage requirements. Depending on the circumstances, facilities may need to invest in vaccine freezers, vaccine refrigerators and equipment designed for vaccine transport or emergencies.
Covid-19 Vaccine Storage Solutions
Choosing the right cold storage solutions for the Covid-19 vaccine is essential, regardless of your role in the handling of this vaccine. To ensure that your equipment is up to the task, you need tosource cold chain products from reputable, recognized brands that specialize in this type of storage. You must also spend time learning about each vaccine's requirements with regard to storage and administration, as well as planning a specialized protocol you will use to make sure all of these requirements are always met.
MedSupply is an authorized Haier Biomedical North American dealer that specializes in cold chain equipment. Haier Biomedical is the world's only complete cold chain solution manufacturer with over 263+ patents. It's the largest global home appliance brand and a global fortune 500 company.
MedSupply offers vaccine freezers, vaccine refrigerators and other equipment that can be used to ensure the quality and safety of the Covid-19 vaccine. For expert consultation on vaccine cold chain products, please contact MedSupply.