Questions & Answers
Storage & Handling - Vaccine Handling
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Vaccine Packing, Shipping and Transport

  1. What procedures should be developed for the storage and handling of vaccines?
    You should develop storage and handling procedures that include contact information for the primary and back-up vaccine coordinators, logistics, pharmacy, and medical maintenance personnel; storage unit/alarm system repair companies; back-up storage areas and vaccine manufacturers. Additional SOPs should address daily/monthly operations and maintenance of equipment, transportation of vaccines, storage and handling of vaccines when off-site, and procedures for compromised vaccine. Refer to the Emergency Vaccine Retrieval and Storage Plan worksheet found on the IHB storage and handling webpage.

  2. What type of storage containers should be used when administering immunizations offsite?
    You must use validated storage containers and packing protocols which assures product safety and efficacy. You may use hard-sided insulated plastic and/or Styrofoam™ coolers with at least 2-inch thick walls, or other mobile temperature management units (i.e., AX27L formerly VaxiCool or PX1L formerly VaxiPac). Thin-walled Styrofoam™ coolers, such as those purchased at grocery stores to hold beverages, are not acceptable.

  3. How should storage containers be labeled when transporting vaccines offsite?
    Attach labels to the outside of the container to clearly identify the contents as being valuable and fragile vaccines. Record vaccine type(s), quantity, date, time, and originating facility on a label on the outside of the container. Document the vaccine storage unit temperature at the time the vaccine is removed for transport.

  4. Can vaccines be transported in a paper bag?
    No, you must use an approved insulated storage container, such as a hard-sided plastic cooler or Styrofoam™ cooler with at least 2-inch thick walls, with appropriate packing material and thermometer.

  5. What are the guidelines for storing vaccine during off-site clinics?
    Ideally, vaccines should be stored at the recommended temperatures inside a properly functioning storage unit (e.g., refrigerator, freezer) at the off-site clinic. If such a unit is not available, the vaccine must be maintained in a validated storage container as described above with a thermometer. During the off-site clinic, keep the storage container closed as much as possible and check and record the temperatures a minimum of every hour.