What you need to know about vaccine storage

May 23, 2014

Over the last few years, the Province Wide Immunization Team has received questions from physicians regarding vaccine storage. The information below has been compiled to answer those questions.

For those physicians who have already implemented the use of vaccine-grade refrigerators and min/max thermometers, and are following the vaccine storage and handling guidelines, thank you. To all physicians who participate in immunization programs, thank you.

The National Vaccine Storage and Handling Guidelines for Immunization Providers (2007) set out by the Public Health Agency of Canada clearly outline the recommendations for vaccine storage.

Refrigerators

Vaccine storage units must be selected carefully and used properly. Any refrigerator or freezer used for vaccine storage must:

  • Be able to maintain required vaccine storage temperatures through all seasons.
  • Be large enough to hold the year's highest monthly inventory, including influenza season.
  • Have a calibrated thermometer or data logger inside each storage compartment.
  • Be dedicated to the storage of vaccines only.
  • Be placed in a secure location away from unauthorized and public access.

Regular refrigerators are not recommended for vaccine storage unless modifications have been made to them to assist in maintaining temperature. Vaccine-grade biological fridges capable of maintaining temperature are recommended.

The large biological fridges are not always feasible for a physician clinic due to size and cost. Manufacturers of biological fridges do have “bar” sized fridges available that are biological grade. Sanyo, VWR and Thermoscientific offer options in this size. The links below will take you to their webpage; contact the companies directly regarding purchase.

Temperature monitoring

As well, additional temperature monitoring is recommended to ensure vaccine stays in the recommended range of 2º to 8º Celsius.

DeltaTRACK sells a min/max thermometer that is easy to use and is reliable if used as directed. Contact the company directly to purchase.

 

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.