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Guide to maintaining a vaccine refrigerator

PHS test over 3,000 vaccine fridges each year and up to 10% of these devices will fail.

How to maintain a vaccine refrigerator

vaccines in a tray

PHS test over 3,000 vaccine fridges each year and up to 10% of these devices will fail. For this reason, we estimate that £3million worth of vaccines will be ruined this year due to surgery fridge failure.
Additionally, we estimate that if faults weren’t detected during testing, it’s likely that they would go unnoticed as there are no external indicators. The implications of these failures are highly significant, both in terms of healthcare and finance.
Not only is the vaccines’ efficiency jeopardised, which could endanger your patients’ well-being, but there are also cost implications involved in not having your vaccine fridge tested regularly. Spoiled vaccines will have to be replaced and the insurance costs for failures can be very high.
In fact, a number of practices have seen their insurance premiums increase due to their claims for replacement vaccines. Because of this, many insurers now insist that a claimant’s fridges are tested quarterly to minimise the risk of repeat claims.
Why do vaccine fridges fail?
Although the average vaccine fridge will last between 6 and 8 years, as with all electrical equipment, there is no guarantee, and it is not uncommon for this type of equipment to fail in its first year of being used.
Additionally, June to October is the peak time for fridge failures, due either to a period of sustained high temperatures or the bulk storage of new vaccines. The high number of flu vaccines delivered in October, for example, can often push fridges that are bordering on failure over the edge.
It is also surprising to see the increase in the number of domestic fridges appearing in surgeries. Despite being unsuitable for vaccines, the cheaper fridges can be used for specimens and act as an over flow. However, with time, the efficacy of vaccines stored in unsuitable fridges will be compromised, placing the health of your patients under threat.

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