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Vaccines And The Cold Chain

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Vaccines And The Cold Chain

Immunisation is one of the most effective ways of saving lives and improving public health. In order to ensure the stability and efficacy of vaccines they must be transported and stored in precisely controlled conditions, with a temperature maintained between +2° C and +8° centigrade, from the point of manufacture right up to administration to the patient. This is referred to as the cold chain.

Effective maintenance of the cold chain is essential. It is essential to comply with the individual vaccine manufacturer’s instructions, to ensure the efficacy and potency of the vaccine, with maximum benefit and least risk to the patient.

It is therefore essential for any nurse involved in the administration of vaccines to adhere to best practice for storage and handling of vaccines (and other drugs) in general practice surgeries to maintain quality standards and ensure patient safety. It is equally important that practice nurses are aware of the risks associated with poor handling, storage and stock rotation.

The following five multiple choice questions, offered at basic level, assess your knowledge of safe handling and storage of vaccines. Complete the module, including the further reading and some or all of the suggested activities, to obtain a certificate for one hour of continuing professional development to include in your annual portfolio.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this resource, you should have an understanding of:

  • The importance of robust systems and record keeping to support maintenance of the cold chain.
  • The need for effective communication to facilitate maintenance of the cold chain.
  • The importance of reporting incidents promptly and appropriately in the event of any breach that may compromise the safety and efficacy of a vaccine.
  • Understand the importance of maintaining up to date training and education to ensure best professional practice.
  • The essentials of safe vaccine stock ordering, rotation and storage.

Reading List

Department of Health Immunisation against infectious disease – Storage, distribution and disposal of vaccines: the Green Book, chapter 3

RCGP General Practice Foundation. General Practice Nurse Competencies, 2012

Education for Health courses

Essentials of Primary Care Nursing – 5 one day workshops