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Cold Chain Storage of Vaccines: A Brief Introduction to Thermometry



Dean C. Ripple


To maintain the efficacy of vaccines requires maintaining the storage temperature within well-defined limits; vaccine failure due to improper storage results in large direct and indirect public health costs. In this presentation, I give a brief introduction to thermometry and related techniques in measurement science. Topics covered include: a description of the measurement problem; an overview of sensor types; a description of what it means to have traceability to NIST; methods for measurement assurance; measurement uncertainty and error allowances; the difference between certification and calibration; and the proper use of thermometers. At the end of the talk, I give answers to a number of common questions regarding temperature measurements and traceability within the vaccine cold chain.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


cold chain, freezer, ITS-90, refrigerator, storage, temperature, thermometer, traceability


Ripple, D. (2008), Cold Chain Storage of Vaccines: A Brief Introduction to Thermometry, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 22, 2024)


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Created September 1, 2008, Updated February 19, 2017