The newly developed COVID-19 vaccines require low temperature storage to ensure their efficacy. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically states that it should be stored in an ultra-cold freezer, thermal shipping container or refrigerator. The ultra-cold freezer’s temperature should be maintained between -80°C and -60°C (-112°F and -76°F).
With each thermal shipping container holding up to 5 trays of vaccine and each tray containing 195 multidose vials (975 doses), it is critical that storage locations check and record storage unit temperature each workday to avoid contamination of valuable vaccines. In fact, the “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Summary” on the CDC’s website specifically states: “Use a digital data logger (DDL) with a probe designed specifically to measure ultra-cold temperatures.”
While Moderna shipping and storage requirements are much easier since the temperatures are lower, the CDC still advises that vaccine vials may be stored in the refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) for up to 30 days before vials are punctured. The FDA recently eased shipping and two-week storage temperatures for the Pfizer vaccine to -25°C to -15°C. Still the same instructions apply regarding the use of a DDL. Also, the recently approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has similar DDL requirements to Moderna.
One company, TandD, offers a wide variety of data loggers with sensing solutions specifically suited for these types of applications. Three different TandD models suitable for monitoring the Pfizer vaccine’s ultra-low temperature include the TR-75wb/nw, the RTR-505B with a TCM3010 adapter module and the TR-55i-TC, which is best used for monitoring in transit. Each of these units is compatible with the thermocouple sensor necessary to monitor temperatures at a target -70°C. For the Moderna vaccine and other vaccines with similar storage temperature requirements, TandD offers RTR500B series DDLs that work with the thermistor sensors to monitor from -40°C to 80°C. Since many pharmaceutical products require refrigeration, DDLs have many healthcare applications.
“We’re seeing more clients in the healthcare industry turn to data loggers to protect the integrity of their vaccines in storage and en route to their facilities,” said Stephen B. Knuth, president, TandD U.S. LLC.