Vaccine Storage & Handling

Excessive heat or cold can reduce vaccine potency. You must maintain optimal vaccine storage temperatures as soon as the vaccine arrives at your office up to the time the vaccine is administered to a patient. Review the policies below, in the Routine Vaccine Management Plan and in the PDPH Storage & Handling Guide.

If you encounter a problem with vaccine storage & handling, immediately contact your site’s Vaccine Coordinator and the Philadelphia Immunization Program (see right for contact information).

 


Vaccine Storage Units


All Storage Units

All vaccine storage units must demonstrate that they can maintain vaccine storage temperatures for 2 weeks prior to vaccine storage.

Dorm-style units are prohibited for vaccine storage – even temporary storage.

Refrigerators

Fill the refrigerator door, floor and top shelf with water bottles. Refer to this diagram.

Freezers

Fill the freezer door and top shelf with cold packs. Refer to this diagram.

Temperature Monitoring



Refrigerators: Maintain 35 to 46°F (2 to 8°C). Aim for 40°F (6°C).

Freezers: Maintain 5°F (-15°C) or colder. Aim for 0°F (-18°C).

All vaccines are refrigerated except Varicella vaccine. Varicella is the only vaccine which is stored in the freezer.

Record storage unit temperatures twice daily using the “Temperature Log Forms” below. Keep records on file for 3 years.

Temperature Monitoring Forms

Temperature Monitoring Resources

Approved Vaccine Thermometers

Dial and mercury-filled thermometers are not approved for vaccine temperature monitoring. Only use certified calibrated thermometers.

Digital Data Loggers


The Philadelphia Immunization Program is launching a pilot program with 30 providers to test data loggers, which continuously monitor vaccine storage temperatures. The Immunization Program will use information collected from this pilot program to make recommendations for data loggers for all providers.

All digital data loggers must have a certificate of calibration from an accredited laboratory (more information in the Job Aid below).

Job Aids

Receiving Vaccine Shipments



Staff accepting packages from vaccine shipping sources should know the importance of immediate vaccine storage and should know the name of their office’s Vaccine Coordinator.

Upon receiving a vaccine shipment from McKesson, immediately check the 3M MonitorMark™ Time Temperature Indicator, TransTracker® C FREEZEmarker® Indiciator and/or ColdMark™ Freeze Indicator. These tools will show if the vaccine has maintained proper temperature during transportation to your site. Refer to the documents below for more information.

Receiving a Vaccine Shipment

Vaccine Shipment Resources

Separating Private, VFC and VFAAR Vaccine



Private, VFC and VFAAR vaccine should not be interchanged. The VFC and VFAAR programs will verify vaccine accountability during quality assurance visits.

Clearly label VFC and VFAAR vaccine to distinguish it from privately purchased vaccine. VFC and VFAAR vaccine can be labeled as it is unpacked and placed into the storage unit. “VFC” and “VFAAR” stickers are available at no charge upon request from the Philadelphia Immunization Program and may be affixed to cartons as the vaccine is unpacked.

If you cannot check and label your VFC and VFAAR shipment immediately, place the entire contents into a plastic bag and place the bag into proper storage. Do not unpack the vaccine between patients; it is very easy for the unpacking process to be interrupted and for vaccine to be left out and forgotten.

Expired, Spoiled and Wasted Vaccine Policy


Expired and/or Spoiled Vaccine

Expired vaccine is defined as VFC and/or VFAAR product that exceeds the listed expiration date.

Spoiled vaccine is defined as VFC and/or VFAAR product that has been exposed to out-of-range temperatures, and is no longer viable.

Both expired and spoiled vaccine should be reported within 30 days after expiration/spoilage using the Expired/Spoiled VFC/VFAAR Vaccine Return Form.

Wasted Vaccine

Wasted vaccine is defined as VFC and/or VFAAR product that is in a broken vial/syringe, was drawn from a vial but never used, or product in an open vial that was never finished.

Report wasted vaccine within 30 days after it is wasted using the Wasted VFC/VFAAR Vaccine Return Form.

Policy Guidelines

Emergency Vaccine Management



In case of vaccine temperature excursion or emergency (natural disaster and/or power outage), immediately contact your site’s Vaccine Coordinator and refer to your Emergency Response Plan (posted near the vaccine storage unit). Then contact the Immunization Program (see right sidebar).

Complete Emergency Response Guide

Emergency Response Sections

Alarm Systems



Providers who store over $15,000 worth of VFC vaccines in their storage units are strongly advised to invest in an alarm system that monitors the unit 24 hours a day and notifies the provider of any fluctuation in temperature outside of the recommended range.

Providers storing vaccines worth $15,000 or more who chose not to install alarm systems for storage units must understand the risks of foregoing such protection and agree to be held financially responsible for reimbursement of vaccines wasted as a result of an event causing out-of-range temperatures (power outage, doors left open, refrigeration unit malfunction, etc).

Storage & Handling Resources



Learn more about vaccine storage and handling requirements and recommendations from these trusted sources: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

More Storage & Handling Resources


Contact

Amber Sterling, MPH

VFC/AFIX Coordinator

Email: Amber.Sterling@phila.gov

Phone: (215) 685-6650

 

Veronica P. Alvarez, MPA

Interim VFAAR Coordinator

Email: Veronica.Alvarez@phila.gov

Phone: (215) 685-6498

 

Christine Wilson

Vaccine Specialist

Email: Christine.Wilson@phila.gov

Phone: (215) 685-6728

Fax: (215) 238-6939

 

Shumethia Seal

VTrckS Quality Assurance Specialist

Email: Shumethia.Seal@phila.gov

Phone: (215) 685-6667

 

Digital Data Logger Downloads

Email: TempCheck@phila.gov