Did you know 50% of global vaccine wastage stems from temperature-control logistics and
shipment-related issues, and 37.1% of global vaccines are exposed to noncompliant temperatures
Over the next year, the cold chain management of COVID-19 vaccines will impact the lives of billions of people. Successfully distributing billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, all with slightly different stability profiles, through the cold chain will be an unprecedented task. These precious vaccine doses will be delivered at mass vaccination sites, drive through facilities, and 24/7 operations.
Impact of Vaccine Mismanagement
Maintaining the temperature of unprecedented volumes of vaccine vials through each stage of the cold chain will be an exceedingly difficult operation. Distribution of temperature-sensitive products involves many hand-offs, and each step in the process presents an opportunity for temperature excursions.
When vaccine temperature protocols are not monitored — or are only partially monitored — along the distribution chain, potentially damaging temperature excursions may go undetected. In addition, there are many points of failure that could happen, such as freezer or refrigerator breakdowns, weather-related shipping delays, power outages, etc.
Without the appropriate technology to identify heat-compromised vials, the efforts of healthcare professionals become even more complex and may result a few negative scenarios. Firstly, vaccines may be erroneously discarded due to suspected heat damage. Secondly, an increased timeframe will be required to vaccinate the world’s population. Thirdly, a false sense of protection will be given to the public, if individuals are given a vaccine that was exposed to damaging heat.
In December 2020, a Wisconsin hospital was forced to throw out more than 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses that were rendered unfit for use due to temperature mismanagement by an employee. Because of the mismanagement, the hospital concluded that 57 vaccinations given over a two-day period were either less effective or ineffective.
In order to avoid any heat damage, Vaccine Vial Monitors (VVMs) should be applied at the time of manufacture. Furthermore, distributors and logistics departments should utilise Temperature Indicator Cards and/or Electronic Temperature Sensors to monitor the temperature exposure of vaccine shipments in real-time.
Vaccine administration sites should also utilitise Temperature Indicator Cards and/ or Electronic Temperature Sensors to monitor the temperature exposure of vials upon receipt, and those stored in freezers and refrigerators for later use.
With Zebra’s diverse range of Temperature Monitoring and Sensing Technology, staff at each stage of the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain can gain real-time actionable insights to ensure consistent and safe temperature management, and easy identification of vaccines that may have been heat compromised up until the very last mile.
Zebra offers the most complete portfolio of Temperature Monitoring and Sensing Technology at the individual product, shipment, and storage levels.