THE Pacific regional cold storage facility for all vaccines has opened at Yee's Cold Storage in Nadi.
The facility accommodates vaccines for 12 Pacific Island countries — Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
UNICEF Pacific representative Dr Karen Allen said vaccines were less effective or spoilt if they were not maintained at the right temperature.
"The cold chain is the process used to maintain ideal conditions during the transport, storage, and handling of vaccines, starting at the manufacturer and ending with the administration of the vaccine to the client," Mrs Allen said.
Previously vaccines were kept with imported frozen produce.
The new storage facility was given by the New Zealand Government.
UNICEF procures vaccines for 13 Pacific Island nations through the Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII) funded by aid from the New Zealand, Japanese and US governments. The vaccines are international quality, WHO certified, and bought in bulk at a discounted rate.
"Without a proper storage facility, there is no guarantee vaccines are 100 per cent potent when they reach their final destination.
"I'm sure all Pacific island countries, health workers, parents and caregivers, are just as appreciative as UNICEF for this storage facility.
"A child who is not immunised is more likely to be sick, disabled, undernourished or could possibly die."