Vials of medicine or vaccine. Blue tint. Very narrow depth of field.

Proper Transport and Storage of COVID-19 Vaccines

It has been a very exciting time for the medical field in the past few weeks. With the roll-out of the vaccine, hospitals should see a decline in patients and the world’s economies should be able to get back to normal. However, ensuring the cold chain can be challenging in even the best of circumstances. For COVID-19 vaccines, the supply chain will be taxed more than ever before. The key to the efficient, effective distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines is to ensure the cold chain remains intact.  The logistics of providing a vaccine to 7.8 billion people are astoundingly complex. Vaccine manufacturers insist that transport operators responsible for delivering the medicine and end-users comply with a strict set of regulations.

One restriction impacting the safe delivery of the Pfizer vaccine is the temperature at which samples must be contained during transit. Specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilising dry ice to maintain recommended storage temperature conditions of -70°C±10°C for up to 10 days unopened will be used.  The thermal shippers can then be used as temporary storage units by refilling with dry ice every five days for up to 30 days of storage. The vaccine can also be stored for five days refrigerated in 2-8°C conditions after which it must be discarded. Each vial makes five doses and has to be used within 6 hours.

Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, in contrast, must be stored at -20°C for as long as six months. When stored between 2°C and 8°C (refrigeration), it remains potent as long as 30 days. That said, the vaccine will be distributed in 10-dose vials that must be used within six hours of opening, thus increasing the potential for temperature excursions.

This manifests complexity in the supply chain, making last-mile delivery the greatest hurdle. As truckload shipments of vaccines are broken down into smaller units for shipments to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and physicians’ offices, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure temperature stability over time.

From 2014 to 2019, Australia lost nearly $AUD 26 million worth of vaccines from 12,000 cold chain breaches. As a result, almost 747,000 vaccine samples were lost over the last 5 years.

Temperature excursions during transport of COVID-19 vaccines lead to unintended consequences for recipients of the vaccine, suppliers and transport operators. Our WarmMark Temperature Indicators provide visible information of any temperature excursions and the duration during transport. By using WarmMark temperature indicators, logistics companies can ensure the recipients of the vaccines have not been compromised on delivery. Temperature indicators also assist health professionals to manage inventory and avoid vaccine wastage.

Monitoring is an early warning system. It won’t prevent a temperature excursion, but it can alert you to excursions in time to minimise their impacts. Vaccine packaging should be chosen with delays in mind, as packages may sit in customs awaiting clearance or inadvertently arrive during weekends or holidays. Likewise, changes in weather between northern and southern hemispheres may also cause issues in the cold chain.

We have a range of temperature indicators for use in the transport of COVID-19 vaccines.
Contact us at ShockWatch today so we can discuss your requirements further… We supply all over Australia and will be doing everything we can to assist in the delivery of Australia’s shipments of COVID-19 vaccines being delivered within the manufacture’s guidelines helping to minimise disruption and economic loss resulting from temperature excursions during shipping and in storage.