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Safeguard your vaccines this storm season

Nov. 25, 2020

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With storm season upon us, Metro North Public Health unit is reminding practices to ensure plans are in place to safeguard vaccines against power outages.

In the event of a power outage, vaccine refrigerators can only maintain an adequate temperature of below eight degrees Celsius for up to 20 minutes.

It is important to have a back-up plan and alternative storage if a power failure occurs, such as a backup power supply, a monitored offsite refrigerator, or alternative safe storage such as a transportable hard-walled cooler or esky.

When moving vaccines to a hardwalled cooler box, it is important you do not remove them from their original packing to help prevent damage during transportation, protect vaccine potency by reducing exposure to UV and florescent light, and maintain a stable temperature around the vaccine.

The Metro North Public Health Unit recommends all practices check contingency plans, to prepare for the event of a power failure:

  • Do you have the appropriate number of eskies to hold all vaccines?
  • Do you have enough ice bricks to chill the eskies?
  • Do you have a freezer where the ice bricks can be stored ready for use?
  • Do you have sufficient packing material such as bubble wrap or shredded paper to prevent direct contact between the vaccines and the ice packs?
  • Do you have a functioning digital minimum and maximum thermometer for each esky?
  • Do you have a written procedure for staff to follow?

A trial run of cooling your eskies and maintaining them between two and eight degrees Celsius is recommended to be sure the plan works effectively in your practice.

For more information, refer to the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for Five’ (third edition) on the Department of Health website: bnphn.org/strive-for-five.

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