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WHO Provides Simplified Process for Temperature Mapping Cold Storage Equipment

Posted on Apr 26, 2022 by Brandon Russell

A snapshot of the WHO manual

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published guidance highlighting the importance of temperature mapping all cold storage equipment used to store medications and vaccines. The guidance requires all such equipment should be temperature mapped every two years and after any major modification or repair to confirm performance standards are maintained. 

Temperature mapping is the process of recording and mapping temperatures within a three-dimensional space over a set period. Temperature mapping can help identify areas of temperature diversion (hot spots or cold spots) that may not be suitable for medication and vaccine storage. 

The high cost of vaccines and current supply chain issues surrounding most pharmaceuticals reinforce the importance of safeguarding existing inventories and ensuring temperature excursions do not jeopardize the safety or effectiveness of medications and vaccines. 

Despite the importance of these exercises, the WHO’s Effective Vaccine Management (EVM) assessments show a lack of thorough documentation of effective temperature distribution within cold storage equipment to date. The WHO cites several reasons for this gap, including: 

  • The lack of a simple tool to facilitate temperature mapping. 
  • The cost of equipment required to perform temperature mapping. WHO guidelines require the use of approved temperature monitoring sensors and data loggers. 
  • The time, 48-72 hours, required to perform temperature mapping.
  • Lack of internal competencies to complete and analyze the temperature mapping data. 
To help simplify the process, the WHO created a tool that provides a step-by-step guide for developing and executing a temperature mapping process for cold rooms, refrigerators, and freezers. 
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Another best practice to ensure temperature uniformity and reduce the risk of temperature excursions is storing medications and vaccines in purpose-built medical grade refrigerators and freezers. Choosing units designed and manufactured to provide the temperature uniformity, stability, and recovery performance required to protect thermo-sensitive medications and vaccines.

Resources such as the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit and the NSF / ANSI 456 Vaccine Storage Standard provide guidance on how to select appropriate refrigeration units. Units certified to the NSF / ANSI 456 standard provide confidence that the unit will meet or exceed the temperature performance attributes required for safe vaccine and medication storage.

The full manual on cold storage temperature mapping is available on WHO’s website.

Download the Manual »

Brandon Russell

Written by Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell is a senior marketing manager, covering the vaccine and pharmacy segments. He has more than five years of marketing experience.

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