Updated on 16 July 2012
There is an increasing need to package vaccines better to save them from heat and freeze damage
Over the past decade, the world has invested enormous resources and energy into the development of new and life-saving vaccines. Current vaccination programs save more than three million lives per year and new vaccines that focus on diseases affecting people in the world's poorest countries can protect millions more.
Apart from research and development of new vaccines for diseases, many research and non-profit organizations are working towards improving vaccine formulations to protect them from heat and freeze damage, improve presentation and packaging to meet user needs, minimize environmental impact, and develop new equipment to store, monitor, transport vaccines.
According to WHO, there is five percent wastage for all single-dose vials, 50 percent wastage rate for 10-20 dose vials and 10 percent wastage rate for two to six dose vials of lyophilized vaccines and 25 percent wastage rate for 10-20 dose vials and 10 percent wastage rate for two to six dose vials of liquid vaccines. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the federal Vaccines Children program alone incurs more than $20 million in vaccine waste annually from poor refrigeration and vaccine exposure to freezing temperatures.
PATH and its partners have achieved improvements in heat stability of vaccines, facilitating outreach of vaccines beyond the constraints of traditional cold storage.
To monitor the heat exposure of vaccine vials, PATH has developed vaccine vial monitors (VVMs) by working with Temptime. It is a label that adheres to the vaccine vial and changes color to indicate if the vaccine has been exposed to too much heat. They improve outreach services to remote locations and reduce unnecessary wastage of vaccine. Now over 3.2 billion VVMs are being used on vaccines in immunization programs all across the world. They will allow health workers to recognize and replace more than 230 million doses of inactive vaccines and deliver an additional 1.5 billion doses in remote areas over the next decade.