WHO vaccines and the history of vaccines for children

Vaccines help to keep our children healthy and they play an important role in their quality of life. The practice of immunization dates back centuries ago and today it has greatly advanced. Here is a look at WHO vaccines and the history of the Vaccines for Children program.

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Introduction

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program is a federally funded program that helps to provide vaccines to children at no cost whose families otherwise could not afford them. The VFC program was established in response to a measles resurgence that resulted in 55,000 cases in the United States. The program was created in 1993 in response to low immunization coverage.

Today the Vaccines for Children Program provides vaccines for at least 17 different diseases; it has prevented diseases, saved lives and improved free vaccine availability worldwide.

VFC aims to save lives by protecting children against serious illnesses. Through the use of WHO vaccines the program has moved one step closer to eliminating some of the world’s most devastating diseases. The program directs investments toward new vaccines, as well as diagnostic and health technologies.

The biggest challenges for safe and efficient vaccination for children

One of the most crucial modern health tools is WHO vaccines. It saves up to three million lives annually. Vaccines are vital. However, children globally continue to miss out on the benefits of this program. Below are some of the biggest challenges preventing safe and efficient vaccination for children and what can be done to combat them:

Transportation

Getting the vaccines to children who live in the interior regions of a country and hard-to-reach geographic locations can be very challenging. Healthcare workers often experience severe difficulties in providing vaccines, which makes the journey long and risky. Lack of infrastructure and delays in the delivery of vaccines often result in spoilage. For vaccines to maintain their efficacy they need to be stored and transported at controlled temperatures, which adds even more challenges. Portable and durable cold chain equipment is a must for the transportation of WHO vaccines worldwide. Innovations throughout the years have improved shipments and helped make these challenges easier.

Safety

The safety and efficacy of immunizations still pose a significant risk and are a top priority for every nation. The three major aspects of safety include:

  1. The composition of the vaccine

  2. The administration of the vaccine

  3. The surveillance and evaluation of the program

Out of the 12 billion injections given each year, one billion WHO vaccines are rejected as part of the immunization program. Unsafe injections can result in the transmission of pathogens and other diseases. So to avoid this risk, each vaccine developed should be protected and monitored throughout the cold chain to ensure it does not cause greater damage to human life.

Credibility

Licensure and recommended requirements slow down the vaccination approval processes. It generally takes years before a vaccine can reach a certain efficacy rate through clinical trials and be approved for human use. This is obviously problematic. Pathogens often mutate within the clinical trial period and this reduces the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Resources to handle complexity

For many WHO vaccines to be fully effective, multiple doses are required over time. Some vaccines are combined in a single injection for efficiency and convenience. Therefore, each vaccine should be designed to be capable of successfully adding other compounds to it. Developing nations have faster population growth and a lack of infrastructure, which often makes it difficult for vaccines (and various dosages) to be distributed and administered. Chemical incompatibility is also a challenge due to the combining of various antigens. Limited resources to handle the complexity of the vaccines, with regard to administering the proper or multiple doses, is a one of the greatest challenges.

Temperature monitoring of vaccines

To maintain effectiveness, WHO vaccines must be stored, transported and handled properly. Improper handling of vaccines may result in:

  • Vaccines that are unsafe and may pose health risks

  • Wasted resources (unviable vaccines) resulting in the need to re-vaccinate

  • Decreased potency or minimal protection against the disease.

Vaccine cold chain

The vaccine cold chain refers to the required temperature range at which the product is required to be kept at all times during the entire lifecycle of the product--from compounding, production and manufacturing to distribution, storage and delivery to the end-use patient. All along this cold chain, stakeholder and each destination should maintain and monitor the vaccine's optimal range temperature. The ideal temperature is determined by the manufacturer’s SOP.

Excessive cold and intense light are enemies of vaccines and can reduce the effectiveness. Once the potency of a vaccine has been lost it cannot be restored.

Vaccines must be shipped and stored at an optimal temperature range determined by the manufacturer’s standard operating procedure (SOP).

There are numerous temperature monitoring options from which to choose that help to ensure safe vaccine delivery and safeguard the product.

What monitoring solutions are prequalified by the WHO?

Among the many factors that play a vital role in the administration of effective vaccines to children is temperature. Each vaccine product is manufactured differently and hence has a specific sensitivity to temperature.

WHO approved vaccines are sensitive to heat and freezing and those that are liquid require refrigeration.

Thus, the temperature of these vaccines needs to be monitored and maintained throughout the supply chain. For patient safety, simple, effective temperature monitoring is key. The following WHO prequalified temperature monitoring devices developed and manufactured by ELPRO can be used throughout the whole cold supply chain:

LIBERO ITS

This is the latest innovation from ELPRO, it monitors solutions for products in transit and provides end-to-end temperature indication on the kit or tray. It is smaller, thinner, more durable, more intelligent and less costly than any other indicator on the market. Using any smartphone you can read the data at a touch of a button.

LIBERO Cx

LIBERO Cx features PDF data loggers for monitoring rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cryo containers and incubators. This device is used to measure temperature as well as humidity. It is pre-configured and easy to install and use.

LIBERO W

This device is typically placed with the vaccine load in a vaccine refrigerator. For 30 consecutive days, it logs the temperature of the refrigerator and can issue an alarm via SMS/E-Mail. It is designed for use in a doctor’s offices, clinics or small pharmacies. LIBERO W features pre-configured +2 °C to + 8 °C, designed for refrigerated or frozen vaccines, has a start button, an alarm on display and audio, replaceable batteries, a calibration certificate, storage and a single device is designed for a single refrigerator.

ELPRO Cloud

This monitoring device is ideal for use in laba and equipment, pharmacy chains and hospitals. ELPRO Cloud provides the ideal entry-level solution for real-time monitoring of temperature and position during cold chain transports. It is configurable by the customer, designed for refrigerated or frozen vaccines, has a 24/7 alarm system through E-Mail or SMS, has calibrated sensors, replaceable batteries, storage, calibration certificate and unlimited cloud data archive. Also, it features up to 50 measuring points in one software, self-calibration is possible and an automated PDF report and software dashboard view.

Final Thoughts

Vaccines are vital to safeguard the lives of our children and their continued viability could shape future generations. ELPRO is your trusted choice for any application, including monitoring solutions for R&D and production facilities. With over 30 years of experience, we support our clients to help ensure safe and effective medicine for patients. The future of vaccines is bright, with new technologies and global stakeholders working together for the greater good. This will result in more healthier children and the eradication of disease.

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