Make sure your practice stores and handles vaccines according to CDC, Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, and manufacturer guidance. Properly storing and handling vaccines is essential for protecting patients from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit is developed by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When implemented properly, CDC guidance helps keep vaccines stored safely, so that they are not exposed to temperatures at which they could lose potency and become ineffective. State VFC programs require that participating practices implement this guidance as a minimum.

Guidance Summary

From Manufacturers

Follow vaccine manufacturers’ product-specific guidance, 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 *

*Please note for VFC providers, do not discard vaccine without contacting the manufacturer and/or immunization program.

From CDC

The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit offers recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that are good for all offices but serves as minimum requirements for VFC providers. Main points include:

  • Using a temperature buffered probe rather than measuring ambient air temperatures.
  • Using Digital Data Loggers (DDLs) as Temperature Monitoring Devices (TMDs) to continuously monitor vaccines that will be administered to children in the VFC program.
  • Maintaining primary and back-up DDLs that meet CDC requirements.
  • 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.

Some key points to consider for choosing equipment to meet the needs of your practice and keep your vaccine stock safe include:

  • Medical - or pharmacy-grade refrigerators have electronic thermostats, audible door-ajar alarms, wire shelves, interior fans, and ports to pass through sensor wire.
  • Freezers are much smaller and can be manual or auto-defrost. They can have simpler analog thermostats but should have a port for sensor wires. If picking a manual defrost unit, there should be a spare or second unit in the same officer capable of holding the frozen vaccine while the defrost is completed.

The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit includes a COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Addendum with information, recommendations, and resources to comply with the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement. For more information about the provider agreement and enrolling as a COVID-19 vaccine provider, see here.

Educational Opportunities

  • CDC eLearn: Immunization: You Call the Shots-Module Ten-Storage and Handling—2021
    This module is the tenth in a series titled "Immunization: You Call the Shots" and focuses on storage and handling requirements for vaccines. The series is designed to provide key immunization knowledge in a very basic step-by-step manner. It presents practice-oriented content about immunization.
  • Keys to Storing and Handling Your Vaccine Supply
    Keys to Storing and Handling Your Vaccine Supply is presented as a web-on-demand video
    Description: This web-based on-demand video is designed to decrease vaccine storage and handling errors by demonstrating recommended best practices and addressing frequently asked questions (FAQs).


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American Academy of Pediatrics