The answer to the question of how expired vaccines are destroyed in terms of public health is sought. Let’s examine in detail the disposal of expired vaccines and the cold chain, which is one of the subjects of medical waste control…
What is Vaccine and Expired Vaccines
The exact answer to the question of what is a vaccine is given in the form of biological products that provide protection against the disease by stimulating the immune system. Vaccines developed to create humoral immunity or cellular immunity by producing antigen-specific antibodies are used as a protector against different epidemics in today’s society. The effect of the vaccine occurs when the immune system responds to the weakened and sometimes killed microorganism. Thus, when the person encounters the disease agent, the immune system remembers the agent and develops a quick response to it.
This helps the disease not to occur at all or to pass with a mild picture. When it comes to vaccine types, it is necessary to explain that vaccines are basically divided into two main groups: live vaccines and inactivated vaccines. You can consider Coolermed technology when looking for a vaccine storage cabinet or a medical waste cabinet. Coolermed is a leading company in medical cooling equipment and Eco vaccine refrigerator.
According to WHO, the expiry date of the vaccine, which is one of the two most important inventions for public health (the other is disinfection of drinking water), may expire or may become unusable due to incorrect storage and transportation. For an effective vaccination, it is of great importance to strictly comply with the cold chain rules. It is important to mention the concept of the cold chain here.
Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Regulation
As it is known, the process applied to transport the vaccines under suitable conditions from the place where they are produced to the place where the vaccine will be made is called the cold chain. Although a range of +2/+8 degrees is generally recommended for the vaccine storage temperature, it should be noted that each vaccine has its own storage conditions. For example, some vaccines can be frozen, while for others, freezing causes spoilage.
Some vaccines can be affected by light as well as by the temperature. In cases where appropriate conditions are not met, the vaccine loses its effectiveness and must be destroyed within the framework of medical waste control in accordance with the regulation. In addition, it can be read from the barcode of the vaccine and must be destroyed when the expiration date is clearly written on the label has passed. So, how to dispose of expired vaccines?
Expired Vaccines in Medical Waste Control
Continuous inspection is carried out during the development phase, production phase, and distribution – storage phase for drugs and vaccines until they reach the end-user. In this axis, the decision to dispose of is taken for expired vaccines or vaccines that have not been stored in the right conditions. Looking at the vaccine supply chain, it is seen that a cycle of vaccine production, shipment, storage, transportation from warehouses to application points and waste control is fading.
Vaccine waste control is an extremely important issue in terms of public health. Vaccine disposal should be ensured by following the waste control regulation of the Ministry for vaccines, syringes, and other materials.
Steps to be Followed in Vaccine Disposal as Medical Waste
In vaccine disposal, it is essential to comply with the relevant regulation so that medical wastes do not pose a threat to the environment and human health. Here, the regulation defines the expired vaccine as medical waste and requires it to be separated while it is still at its source. Expired vaccines within the scope of medical waste control; infectious waste, hazardous waste, medical waste, packaging waste, sharps-piercing waste, pharmaceutical waste.
The active ingredient in the vaccine tube is a directly pharmaceutical waste. Pharmaceutical waste includes expired drugs, vaccines, and serums.
- First, the expiry date of the vaccine should be checked, and if the time has expired, it should be recorded on the Ministry’s common software platform together with the report.
- Vaccines to be destroyed must first be removed from the cold chain.
- It should be put into the red waste bag by putting it in the sharp waste box and closing the box.
- It should be sent to the red waste storage by the red waste vehicle and delivered to the authorized waste collection service from there.
According to the said regulation, medical waste containers should be used for expired vaccines. Sharp and piercing waste containers are used to dispose of expired vaccines. Wastes with sharp and penetrating properties are disposed of separately from other medical wastes in boxes that are resistant to puncture, tear, breakage, and explosion, waterproof and leakproof, which cannot be opened and mixed.
This box has the “International Biohazard” logo on it and also reads “Caution Sharps Medical Waste”. It should be filled to a maximum of ¾, then put in red plastic bags. Another issue to be considered in the use of sharp-piercing waste containers is that they should not be opened again later. It is also dangerous to empty and reuse them and recycle them.
How Should Medical Waste Control be Provided After Vaccination?
Our topic is about vaccines that expire and are destroyed without being applied. However, the post-administration vaccine waste procedure, which is a part of the vaccine chain, should also be mentioned. According to the regulation of the Ministry in force, the following details should be paid attention to:
Syringes, scalpels, piercing-stinging-cutting all kinds of disposable materials should be collected in a separate sharps-piercing waste box, the tips should not be tried to be closed after using the injector, but should be thrown into the boxes openly.
Sharp-drilling waste containers, which are resistant to puncture, tear, breakage, explosion, liquid-tight, and cannot be opened or mixed, should be filled at a maximum of ¾. Then, they should be put into red plastic medical waste bags with their mouths closed.
Sharp and piercing waste boxes should never be reopened and reused after they have been closed, and should not be included in recycling.
Storing and transporting the vaccine in accordance with the cold chain regulation and, of course, taking into account the expiration date is of great importance in terms of vaccine effectiveness, human health, and the national economy. Healthcare professionals need to be sensitive about the cold chain with the principle that we are also responsible for the citizens of countries who cannot reach the vaccine.
Community Health and Vaccination
Although it has become a much more hot topic with Covid-19, the vaccine has been in public health since the 1800s, with procedures determined from infancy. The earliest data on vaccine production takes us back to the Ottoman period. In the 1700s, Ottoman imperial physicians developed a treatment using the skin lesions of smallpox sufferers. It is known that a vaccine is applied by rubbing the dried lesions into the crevices of the skin of healthy people. So much so that Lady Montagu, the wife of the British Ambassador, who was in Istanbul during this period, is following the method in question and doing research on it.
Lady Montagu, who is also an important name in the history of vaccination, started a smallpox vaccination campaign after returning to England and popularized this method, which she learned from Ottoman health experts. The effect of Lady Montagu is known in the study produced by Edward Jenner and known as the first vaccine in the history of medicine. Many vaccines have been found after the smallpox vaccine, and today, vaccine studies are continuing not only for Covid-19 but also for different epidemics.
The most effective aid in vaccine storage is vaccine cabinets. Vaccine cabinets, which are produced for this purpose with the latest technology, are of great importance in the transportation and storage phase of the vaccine.
What is the vaccine, does the vaccine have an expiration date, and what is done with expired vaccines? This is how we discussed the subject of an expired vaccine in medical waste control, academic studies, and the relevant regulation of the Ministry.
You can obtain practical solutions for a healthy society with the domestic technology development brand Coolermed vaccine refrigerator, medical waste storage cabinets, blood bank refrigerators, and lyophilizer products.
In this article, we have talked about the control of expired vaccines and medical waste. You can read our previous article on https://coolermed.com/en/vaccine-storage-and-cold-chain-directive/