Cold storage technology will play vital role in vaccine roll-out
Cape Town - Cold storage technology will play a key role in the process once the government restarts the paused vaccine programme.
Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo made the point in a written reply to a question from standing committee on health chairperson Wendy Philander (DA) about how temperature control of vaccine doses and the two-hour lifespan of the vaccines outside of cold storage will work.
Mbombo said: “The J&J vaccine has a shelf life of two years at -20°C and is stored at 2°C to 8°C for one month once removed from the freezer.
“All vaccination sites have vaccine fridges with back-up generators. Research staff are responsible for ensuring cold chain and drawing up the vaccines which are calculated to be used within the two hours from the time of drawing up.”
Speaking about the importance of technology in reaching herd immunity goals for Covid-19 vaccine roll-outs, Ikhaya Automation systems head of business development Eckart Zollner said the use of the correct cold chain and storage management including temperature monitoring and alert technology was critical.
Zollner said: “The manufacturing, transportation, storage and delivery of temperature sensitive products requires an unbroken cold chain. There will be no time to waste in the effort to achieve herd immunity.
“Cold storage is a critical component in the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain and the massive quantities required could easily exceed limitations in refrigerated capacity in warehouses, vehicles, and healthcare facilities.”
Provincial head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said among the lessons learnt from Phase 1A of the vaccine roll-out in the province was that distribution and cold chain management carried huge potential risks with regard to vaccine transport and handling.
“This is a big issue, but we have learned quite a lot, especially in preparation for the Pfizer vaccine.”
On the issue of Phase 2 of the vaccination campaign, Cloete said it was set to run concurrently with Phase 1, which prioritises the vaccination of health-care workers in both the public and private health-care sectors.
“Phase 1B, which is the vaccination of the remaining health care is scheduled to end on May 16 and Phase 2 will start May 17 with both Pfizer and J&J utilised in parallel.”
Dr Cloete said other lessons included how to set up a vaccine site taking into consideration facts such as layout, IT infrastructure and ensuring the availability of trained vaccinators.