Methods for Accurate Cold-Chain Temperature Monitoring Using Digital Data-Logger Thermometers
Michal J. Chojnacky, Gregory F. Strouse, W Wyatt Miller
Complete and accurate records of vaccine temperature history are vital to preserving drug potency and patient safety. However, previously published vaccine storage and handling guidelines have failed to indicate a need for continuous temperature monitoring in vaccine storage refrigerators. We evaluated the performance of seven digital data logger models as candidates for continuous temperature monitoring of refrigerated vaccines, based on the following criteria: out-of-box performance and compliance with manufacturer accuracy specifications over the range of use; measurement stability over extended, continuous use; proper setup in a vaccine storage refrigerator so that measurements reflect liquid vaccine temperatures; and practical methods for end-user validation and establishing metrological traceability. Data loggers were tested using ice melting point checks and by comparison to calibrated thermocouples to characterize performance over 0 °C to 10 °C. We also monitored logger performance in a study designed to replicate the range of vaccine storage and environmental conditions encountered at provider offices. Based on the results of this study, the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines on proper methods for storage, handling, and temperature monitoring of vaccines for participants in its federally-funded, Vaccines for Children program. Improved temperature monitoring practices will ultimately decrease waste from damaged vaccines, improve consumer confidence, and increase effective inoculation rates.