The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have approved three (3) COVID-19 vaccinations for the national rollout in Australia. Each vaccine has specific requirements for temperature storage conditions from when it is manufactured to when it reaches the patient. Ensuring correct temperature storage conditions are maintained is imperative to the efficacy of the vaccination.
Various temperature storage conditions have proved to be difficult, especially for ultra-low temperatures. Most facilities including freight forwarders and medical facilities do not have the capabilities to store product at such temperatures. Dry ice has frequently been used instead of ultra-low freezers due to ease of accessibility.
Dry ice itself poses another obstacle in that it is a dangerous good, made from carbon dioxide. Staff must be trained to use dry ice safely. It must be handled with gloves and be stored and used in a well-ventilated area due to its toxic colourless and odourless nature.
Facilities that are storing vaccines must be continuously temperature monitored to prove compliance to each vaccine storage requirements.
The Pfizer vaccination requires temperature storage conditions of -60.0°C to -90.0°C which has been a large obstacle for providers to overcome due to unavailability of such storage conditions. Storage has been permitted at -15.0°C to -25.0°C in domestic freezers for up to two weeks allowing more providers to store vaccines. Additionally, unopened vials can be stored at +2.0°C to +8.0°C for up to 30days in domestic refrigerators. Once these vials are thawed, they cannot be re-frozen.
The Moderna vaccine must be stored between -15.0°C to -25.0°C (It cannot be stored below
-50.0°C). The product must be thawed prior to use. Unopened vials can be stored between +2.0°C to +8.0°C for a maximum of 30days, or between +8.0°C to +25.0°C for 24hours. Once these vials are thawed, they cannot be re-frozen.
VAXZERIA (Previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca)
The Vaxzeria vaccine requires storage conditions between +2.0°C to +8.0°C and must never be frozen. Stability data allows alternate storage conditions once the vial has been opened, 6hours at room temperature up to +30.0°C or 48hours at +2.0°C to +8.0°C.
The storage process must be carefully monitored and inspected to ensure storage times and temperatures are correctly maintained to ensure patients are being administrated with safe vaccines.