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Vaccine Storage Guide

Outdated or improperly stored vaccines won't protect patients!

Updated 10/14 image of front page of Vaccine Storage Guide
Vaccine Storage Guide: Two-page illustrated guide to vaccine storage temperatures and where and how to store vaccine in a refrigerator-only unit, freezer-only unit, and combination refrigerator/freezer unit. Includes tips for proper storage and management of vaccines.

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Follow these guidelines for proper vaccine management:

  • Designate one fully trained staff member to be the primary vaccine coordinator and at least one person to be backup. Ensure ongoing training for all immunization staff.

Manage vaccine inventory

  • Review your vaccine inventory on a monthly basis and with each vaccine order to avoid over-ordering.
  • Check vaccine expiration dates. Identify vaccine that will expire and determine if it should be transferred.
  • Rotate your vaccine supply by placing vaccines with the earliest expiration dates in front of other vaccines and always use them first.
  • Call the MnVFC program if you have MnVFC vaccine that will expire within three months that you cannot use.
  • If you have stock of both private and MnVFC vaccine, mark them clearly.
  • Make sure you have enough space to store vaccine for the back-to-school rush and flu season.

Store vaccine correctly

  • Place the thermometer's temperature probe in the center of the refrigerator or freezer with the vaccines.
  • Use open trays, wire baskets, or other uncovered containers to help organize vaccines.
  • Clearly label each container with the vaccine type. Avoid storing look-alike, sound-alike vaccine next to each other (e.g., Tdap and DTaP, HepA and HepB).
  • Keep vaccines in their original packaging.
  • Store vaccines on the middle shelves and two to three inches from the walls of the combination refrigerator/freezer, not in the door or bins.
  • Keep water bottles, jugs, or cold packs in the refrigerator and frozen packs or other ice-filled containers in the freezer. Mark water bottles “DO NOT DRINK.”
  • Be sure to routinely check that the door of each unit is shut.

Monitor temperatures

  • Use thermometers that come with a certificate stating they have been calibrated according to national standards. Thermometers without this certificate are not acceptable.
  • Check and record refrigerator and freezer temperatures twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing at the close of business.
  • Record temperature readings on a temperature log and post it in a visible location on or near the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Make sure to record the date, time, and name or initials of the individual checking the temperatures.
  • Record the minimum and maximum temperatures each morning and reset, if needed, after recording them.
  • Take immediate action on all out-of-range temperatures!
  • Be sure to keep temperature logs for three years.

Take action on out-of-range temperatures

  • Determine the cause, if possible.
  • Adjust the thermostat, if necessary.
  • Monitor the temperature.

If the temperature doesn’t stabilize in the correct range within 30 minutes:

    • Stop using the vaccine.
    • Mark the vaccine “DO NOT USE."
    • Move the vaccine to a refrigerator or freezer that's maintaining the correct temperature.
    • For MnVFC vaccine, call the MnVFC program at 651-201-5522 to report out-of-range temperature incidents.
    • Call the vaccine manufacturer and ask to speak to a medical consultant or quality assurance staff.
    • Be ready to share the lot numbers, expiration dates, temperature logs, and the time the unit may have been out-of-range.
    • Document your actions.

Updated Monday, March 16, 2015 at 01:10PM