How to defrost your storage unit

Storage units, especially freezers, can sometimes build up too much ice. When you need to defrost your VFC/VFAAR storage unit, TempCheck – our storage and handling coordinators – can help. TempCheck will help you safely storage the vaccine while you defrost the unit.

Use this guide to plan your defrost. Review it when you plan a defrost, and consult it during the defrost process.

If you have any questions during the defrost or transport process, contact TempCheck as soon as possible. If your vaccine is exposed to out-of-range temperatures during the defrost process, download the DDL file and emial it to right away. Follow TempCheck’s instructions to confirm the viability of the vaccines. Do not use the vaccines until the viability has been confirmed.

Adam Howsare and Alexis Bridges

Plan and prepare

  1. Contact TempCheck to tell them that you are planning to defrost your unit. TempCheck will need to know when you plan to defrost, and where your back-up unit is. TempCheck will send you a backup DDL to monitor the back-up unit. Keep the packing material so you can send the DDL back to PDPH.
  2. Prepare the back-up DDL. Once you get the back-up DDL, temper the probe by putting it in your primary freezer. After 30 minutes, start up the DDL. Monitor temperatures for at least 1 hour. Alternatively, place the probe in your unit overnight and start the DDL the next morning.
  3. Move the vaccine. It’s time to move the vaccine. Leave the primary DDL in your primary unit while you defrost the primary unit.
    1. If your back-up unit is on-site: Move the vaccine and back-up DDL to your secondary unit. Note the time.
    2. If your backup unit is off-site: using the transport guidance in your Emergency Management Plan, set up a hard-sided cooler for transport. Move the back-up DDL to the cooler. Place the probe in the middle. Move the vaccine into the cooler. Note the time. Transport the vaccine directly to the back-up location. Note the time the vaccine and DDL are moved into the back-up unit.

Defrosting your unit

  1. Note the time when you start defrosting your primary unit. The DDL will warm up, which will probably trigger an alarm.
  2. Allow the ice in the unit to melt.
  3. Turn the freezer back on. Wait until the DDL shows that the temperature is back in the normal range.
  4. Transfer the vaccines back into the freezer, using the same transport protocol that you used to move them to the back-up unit.

Dealing with the data

  1. Download the data from both data loggers and email it to
  2. Include the following information in the email:
    1. When you took the vaccine out of the primary unit
    2. When you put the vaccine into the back-up unit
    3. When you started defrosting the primary unit
    4. When you took the vaccine out of the back-up unit
    5. When you put the vaccine back into the defrosted primary unit
  3. Reconnect the DDL and continue temperature monitoring as usual
  4. Repackage the back-up DDL and send it back to PDPH.


2018 Program Updates:

Spring Immunization Updates

  1. Reminder: 2018 Storage and Handling Guidelines
  2. Immunization Program Raffle
  3. Introducing PhilaVax
  4. You’re invited: Grand Rounds on April 23

2018 Storage and Handling Guidelines: From when it’s manufactured right up to when it’s administered to a patient, a vaccine must be protected. Everyone involved is responsible for maintaining the “cold chain” – storing it at correct temperatures to preserve its effectiveness.

In January, we sent out new storage and handling guidelines. These help ensure that you preserve the cold chain and ensure the vaccines’ viability.

Review the update here and be sure that your site has updated your program forms.

In particular, be sure that you:

  • Use digital data loggers: Monitor all VFC/VFAAR vaccine with a certified, calibrated digital data logger during routine onsite storage, vaccine transport, and mass vaccination clinics.
  • Record vaccine temperature: Use paper temperature logs to record vaccine storage unit temperatures twice a day. Record the min and max temperatures at the start of each clinic day.
  • Prepare for an Emergency: Fill out the updated Emergency Management Forms, fill in your practice’s information, and keep a copy near your vaccine storage units with supplies that you’ll need for emergency transport. Fax Page 1 to us at 215-238-6948 whenever you make updates.

Announcing a new Immunization Program Raffle! You and other VFC/VFAAR providers do so much to protect Philadelphians from vaccine-preventable diseases. To thank you, we are starting a regular raffle.

VFC/VFAAR providers like you who show excellent storage and handling practices will be entered into a raffle. Every few months, we’ll randomly select a winner and send you a small vaccine-related prize to support your vaccination work.

Introducing PhilaVax: the KIDS Plus IIS is getting a new name. Over the next month, the KIDS Plus IIS will be getting a new name: PhilaVax. You’ll still log in and use it the same way, but it will have a new name, modern logo, and fresh feel.

You’re invited to the Grand Rounds on April 23: On April 23rd, join us at the Philadelphia County Medical Society for the Grand Rounds as Dr. Kristen Feemster discusses immunization work. A flyer for the event is here.


2017 Year in Review

Philadelphia Immunization Year In Review

To all of the providers and staff who are part of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Vaccines for Children and Vaccines for Adults At Risk programs: 2017 was a terrific year—thanks to you. Click here for a PDF of this message.

Vaccines are one of the best public health interventions ever developed. When we achieve high vaccination rates, we protect everybody. Thanks to your hard work, Philadelphia has done a great job protecting its residents—especially its most vulnerable ones—through vaccines.

New School Requirements

Last spring, the state announced new school requirements. Philadelphia’s health care and educational communities mobilized quickly to ensure that students would have the required immunizations.  In particular, PDPH identified and sent letters to almost 30,000 adolescents who needed to get up-to-date on their MCV4 vaccinations—and Philadelphia’s health care providers admirably handled a significant surge in patients.

National Immunization Survey shows great results for Philadelphia

Every year, the National Immunization Survey (NIS) collects data on vaccines for children and teens, and provides reliable estimates of vaccination coverage that can be compared across states (and some cities).  The 2016 NIS—released this year—showed terrific performances for Philadelphia’s immunization coverage.

Similarly, Philadelphia’s pediatric immunization rates for 2016 exceed national rates—and many of them meet or exceed the related federal Healthy People 2020 goals.

High coverage rates protect us all from diseases—so keep it up!

When we achieve these high immunization rates, it means that people who are vaccinated don’t get sick. It means we help protect people who can’t be vaccinated, due to certain medical conditions. People are healthier, students can stay in school, adults can keep working, and we stop diseases before they start.

As a result of these high coverage rates, Philadelphia has very low numbers of the diseases that these vaccines prevent. The high coverage rates are working, by preventing outbreaks of disease.

Adults need shots too

So, we’ve been working with providers and pharmacists to increase adult immunizations throughout Philadelphia. And, over the past few years, adult vaccinations have been on the rise!



We’re all in this together

This year, PDPH has distributed $32 million worth of vaccine—over 540,000 doses shipped to you and 180 other providers in Philadelphia!

These numbers would mean nothing without your expertise, and commitment protecting the health of Philadelphia’s residents. Thank you.

 Vaccines save lives. On behalf of the Philadelphia Department of Public  Health, and on behalf of the entire city: Thanks for your hard work in 2017, and we look forward to 2018.