Guidance for vaccine storage and monitoring is developed by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Vaccine for Children (VFC) programs require that participating practices implement this guidance as a minimum. They may also choose to require stricter criteria for their programs. The CDC guidance is intended to keep vaccines stored safely, so that they are not exposed to temperatures at which they could lose potency and become ineffective.
- The vaccine manufacturers offer product-specific information, including:
- At what temperature the vaccine should be stored.
- How to store and use a diluent to reconstitute a vaccine (if needed).
- When to discard a vaccine.
- The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit offers recommendations that are good for all offices, but serve as minimum requirements for VFC providers. Main points include:
- Using a temperature buffered probe rather than measuring ambient air temperatures.
- Using a digital data logger with a detachable probe that continuously records and stores temperature information at frequent programmable intervals.
- Using a stand-alone refrigerator and stand-alone freezer units suitable for vaccine storage rather than combination (refrigerator + freezer) or other units not designed for storing vaccines.
- Discontinuing use of dorm-style or bar-style refrigerator/freezers for ANY vaccine storage, even temporary.
- Weekly review of vaccine expiration dates and rotation of vaccine stock.
- The AAP Immunization Training Guide also contains tips for storing and monitoring your vaccines, including:
- Refrigerator temperature should measure between 2°C and 8°C.
- Freezer temperature should measure -15°C or lower.
- Vaccines meant to be stored in the refrigerator should never be frozen.
- Temperatures of the refrigerator and freezer should be checked at least twice each day and documented on a temperature log. The maximum and minimum temperatures reached each day should also be recorded on this log.
The AAP offers an online course on vaccine storage and handling for continuing education credits, with the goal of increasing the likelihood that:
- Vaccines are stored according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
- Children are vaccinated with potent vaccine products that will protect them from disease.
- Immunizers can use all opportunities to vaccinate if vaccines are potent and available, thanks to good storage conditions.
- Practices will not be liable for costly vaccines that are destroyed due to poor management.
This course is available for free on the AAP PediaLink site.