In refrigerators, it is common for different parts of a food-grade commercial cooling unit to either be cooler or warmer as per the areas’ proximity to a wall which sometimes may result in one losing their vegetables. It may also depend on the material from which the shelves are made. Similarly, refrigerators used for storing vaccines can have these problems too. A recent caste study done in Australia reported that more than half of vaccine doses that were discarded got spoiled due to mechanical failures wherein the components of the fridge malfunctioned. The design of the unit plays a crucial role and can sometimes be the sole reason for mechanical failures.
To curb such problems from occurring again, a committee led by NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) has developed a new set of voluntary standards that can be taken up by manufacturers as a level to base their vaccine storage equipment. The new standards might have huge implications on the Vaccine Refrigerators Market as they would ensure the creation of advanced appliances that could keep vaccine doses safe.
The standards committee comprises members from various stakeholders such as industry experts, public health groups, and the government. Their main objective was to help people buy equipment that is appropriate for their purpose. The industry already has a number of protocols and oversight in place, especially in the case of the federally funded Vaccines for Children Program. However, at times it can be difficult for clinicians to be able to find the best equipment desired. This is major because it is not their expertise to know how refrigerators function. Thus, the need for bringing out the new standards is to make it easy for people in charge of distributing vaccines by providing them with safe options.
The committee stated that the standards are not mandatory, and there is no need for vaccine storage units to conform to them. Manufacturers can voluntarily choose to comply with the requirements and submit their units so they can be tested independently. Buyers opting for a refrigerator that is NSF/ANSI certified would be assured that the equipment bought meets the requirement for safe vaccine storage, and so there would be no need for aftermarket engineering controls.
As per the suggestions proposed, units need to make it physically impossible for vaccines to be put into areas where the temperature will not be at an acceptable range. The method on how to achieve this is up to the manufacturer; however, one way to do so is by pushing mesh barriers over the inner sides of the fridge so that areas that are tending to get too hot or cold would be blocked off.
The standards proposed might have a positive impact on the industry and will help in saving the already limited supply of important vaccines. Moreover, they would also help the clinicians look for appliances that are best suitable for medicines that they are authorized to distribute.