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  • Storage & Handling
  • Temperature Monitoring & Controls

Why does the temperature probe of a temperature monitoring device (TMD) need to be suspended in a buffer? Won’t it work just as well if it is measuring air temperature?

A buffered temperature probe is designed to prevent misleading and rapidly fluctuating readings by protecting the TMD from sudden changes in air temperature that can occur when opening a refrigerator door. A probe is “buffered” by immersing it in a vial filled with liquid (e.g., glycol, ethanol, glycerin), loose media (e.g., sand, glass beads), or a solid block of material such as Teflon or aluminum. Vaccine packaging is more thermostable than air because the temperature of solids and fluids change more slowly than air. Standard probes that measure air temperature can fluctuate with the defrost cycles of the unit, frequent opening and closing the door on busy workdays, air circulation patterns, etc. This could lead someone to inaccurately interpret changes in air temperature to mean that the vaccine temperature was out of range.

Last reviewed: July 26, 2023

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