Cold-chain monitoring goes digital

1 September 2011

The random audit process to see how well New Zealand is at keeping the cold chain has now gone digital.

James Donald of the ESR National Vaccine Store outlined the new process at the recent National Immunisation Conference in Rotorua. He said the old temperature-measuring technology had become outdated and interpretation of whether vaccine had become too cold or too warm was open to error.

The new digital monitors were more easy to use, more robust and calibrated for accuracy, so would provide a more reliable system of monitoring cold-chain data.

The audit process sees monitors packed with randomly-selected vaccines in the national store and a “snap-shot” temperature needs to be recorded at each stage of the journey from the store to the practice fridge or beyond. The new digital monitor has four alarm levels to record whether the vaccine temperature has fallen below zero degrees and three alarm levels to record whether the temperature has risen above 10 degrees, above 25 degrees or above 34 degrees. An audit under the old system in 2006 found that one per cent of vaccines had been exposed to temperatures below zero degrees.