Study raises concerns over storage of vaccines

A recent study led by Rosie Lyle of Bishopton Veterinary Group and supported by MSD has revealed that that temperatures in most farm fridges may stray outside the 2–8oC range recommended for storing vaccines.

The study looking at 18 farmers across Yorkshire placed temperature loggers in the fridge where they normally store vaccines, monitoring fridge temperatures between February and April.

Ms Lyle’s study found that 89% of participants recorded a temperature outside the 2–8oC range at least once, 43% recorded temperatures outside this range more than 50% of the time, and a third (33%) recorded a temperature below freezing at least once, with one fridge reaching a minimum temperature of -11.5oC.

These findings raise potential concerns for farmers about vaccine efficacy, as vaccines may be less effective if stored outside the temperature range recommended by the manufacturer, with temperatures below freezing posing a risk, and high temperatures also reducing efficacy, particularly for live vaccines.

Loggers in 55% of the fridges recorded at least one temperature over 8oC, and the maximum temperature recorded was 12oC.

M Lyle said it is: “important for both farmers and vets to be aware of potential concerns about vaccine efficacy given the possible impact on herd health.

“By using max/min thermometers or temperature loggers and monitoring them at least daily, farmers will be able to pick up on problems quickly. If in any doubt about disrupted storage conditions, it’s always worth consulting with the manufacturer to work out if it’s still appropriate to use the vaccines.”

She also said it is important to keep the fridge in an area where it’s protected from extreme temperatures, as well as making sure the fridge is far enough away from walls to allow adequate airflow, and checking there is not too much dirt or debris built up in the grill at the bottom.

She added: “We need to remember cold chain management doesn’t start at the fridge. It’s important to consider transportation to the fridge as well. It’s no good having a perfect fridge if the vaccine sits on the dashboard of your Defender for two hours while you’re parked up at the mart!”

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