The debate about where Covid-19 vaccinations should be administered has been going on for some time. The pivotal point of the discussions is always whether and how to build on existing infrastructures of the health care systems or where to create new ones. As of today, nationwide vaccination centers have been set up as the preferred way of providing many people a fast and secure Covid-19 vaccination. The extent to which it will really be possible to reach everyone who wants to be vaccinated remains to be proven. However, with the new vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies Moderna, Curevac/Bayer as well as AstraZeneca, this strategy could change over the summer of 2021 and vaccination coverage could be extended to the existing network of family doctor’s offices or clinics.
A key challenge – the cold chain
A particular challenge of the early Corona pandemic response of Biontech/Pfizer’s vaccine is the demanding cold chain. The vaccine requires strict adherence to temperatures of down to -78°C for most of its supply chain, both during transport and storage. Maintaining this temperature window to the point of vaccination is not only a logistical challenge, but also an organizational one. Above all, this logistics challenge has prevented the comprehensive supply of clinics and general practitioners away from the vaccination centers and is one of the reasons why the EU was always awaiting and betting on other vaccination manufacturers such as the US company Moderna, or the European partners Curevac/Bayer or AstraZeneca. Since the new batch of Covid-19 vaccines only requires the much simpler 2-8°C cold chain, we will likely see a shift of the vaccination campaigns to focus further on existing healthcare systems in family doctor’s offices or clinics.
How to distribute and store the vaccine correctly?
The transport of vaccines is subject to the EU directive “GDP”, short for Good Distribution Practice. The GDP requires to transport vaccines in the same way as they are urged to be stored. Meaning if a vaccine is to be stored at 2-8°C, it must also be transported at 2-8°C.
While the majority of clinics are already supplied by refrigerated deliveries from specialized transport companies on a daily basis and generally have their own hospital pharmacies or similar facilities with a certified refrigeration infrastructure, this equipment is often not found among the average doctor’s office.
Correct storage is crucial
For correct the storage in Germany, it is essential to use a DIN 58345-approved refrigerator. In contrast to conventional food or gastro refrigerators, these provide a much more precise temperature range, as well as a calibrated sensor system. Pharmaceutical refrigerators must always maintain the strict temperature window of 2-8°C and that for the entire cooling volume. If something goes wrong due to misuse or power failure, pharmaceutical refrigerators are equipped with built-in warning functions so that the doctor can be notified even in his or her absence.
Modern systems, such as the connected thermal system NelumBox, even handle data collection via the Internet in real time, such as Email or browser alert. In the cloud, all data are not only securely processed, but also securely archived and documented for up to 10 years. As the only both stationary and mobile DIN 58345 certified cooling solution, its compact design allows it to be used and placed directly where the patient is vaccinated. With a battery life of up to 16 hours, NelumBox is even suitable for the last mile transport and mobile applications, such as in home-care or mobile vaccination teams.