Whether it is enabling efficient production of food animals, minimizing animal suffering or reducing the need for antibiotics, the cold chain industry plays a major role in protecting our four legged companions. As no doubt, vaccines are a key component of livestock disease prevention which can be seriously compromised by poor storage and handling. So the question is how does the cold chain play its role here?
The cold chain is a system used for thermo-sensitive and biological products that requires special handling kept within a specific temperature range. The most known are vaccines which are kept in an environment of +2°C to +8°C. Cold chain works through enhancing local capacity to store and handle vaccines effectively, leading to better nutritional, livelihood and environmental outcomes. From the manufacturing point, through transportation to distribution centres, and at the very moment when the vaccine is administered, the chain must be unbroken.
When handling vaccines, there are a lot of variables to consider, the conditions and regulatory requirements for each drug, such as monitoring and traceability. Exposure to temperatures outside the recommended range can lead to reduced protection against infectious disease for our animals, vaccine failure and even vaccination safety issues.
Three key components to keep in mind for a successful cold chain system are: equipment, personnel and procedures. It is crucial to ensure that all of these components are present at all times during the process. Verifying that the vaccine is stored, packed and distributed appropriately, and that any failure in equipment or procedures are determined and rectified.
The cold chain is a practice that can be costly and heavy in application. However, there are ways to implement an effective cold chain structure that relies on the Internet, such as IOT (Internet of Things) for temperature sensing technology. Integrating network communication and other technologies are powerful tools to monitor your thermo-sensitive products, as it can track and manage the temperature change information during storage, transportation and use in real time.
Despite greater awareness of the vaccine cold chain, we still observe a gap in the implementation of the system. Veterinary technicians are a direct link in the vaccine cold chain and still to this day, many clinics do not have procedures in place for monitoring vaccine storage temperatures appropriately. The effect in the application management system covering the entire life cycle of a cold chain would show that, not only the quality and safety requirements are met, but also the efficiency can be improved. Hence, veterinary technicians have the opportunity to help design and implement vaccine storage and handling protocols that would welfare not only their system but also help in improving the overall social benefits and economic efficiency of vaccines and product wastage.