Special PP&P Buyer's Guide: Tips for Vaccine Storage and Handling

January 2016 - Vol. 13 No. 1 - Page #14

Following best practices for vaccine storage and handling ensures medication integrity and reduces waste. In May 2014, the CDC released the Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit, which provides significant guidance on safe storage and handling practices for vaccines. Key elements of that guidance are included herein. It is important to note that when creating a vaccine storage policy, always refer to the manufacturer’s product information/package inserts for the most up-to-date recommendations for specific vaccines and diluents.


Store vaccines away from the walls, ceiling, and vents of the freezer.

Do not store vaccines in the door. The temperature in the door is not stable and may differ from the temperature within the unit.


Store vaccines away from the walls, floor, ceiling, and vents of the refrigerator.

Do not store vaccines in deli, fruit, and vegetable drawers, or in the refrigerator door. Temperature and airflow in these areas may not be stable, exposing vaccines to inappropriate temperatures.

Avoid storing vaccines on the top shelf. If the top shelf of a refrigerator must be used, place water bottles close to the vent and only store vaccines that are not sensitive to cold temperatures (eg, MMR).

Diluent Storage

Some diluents require refrigeration. Others have the option of being stored at room temperature (no warmer than 77°F [25°C]) or in the refrigerator. Whenever possible, store the diluent with its corresponding refrigerated vaccine. Diluents for Pentacel (DTaP-IPV-Hib combination vaccine) and Menveo (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) contain antigen. They are packaged together with the corresponding lyophilized vaccine and must be stored together.

NEVER store diluent in the freezer.


Place vaccines and diluents in the central area of the unit two to three inches away from the storage unit walls. Store vaccines and diluents by type and arrange in rows.

Allow space between rows to promote cold air circulation around vaccines and diluents. Adequate cold air circulation helps maintain a consistent temperature for each vaccine and diluent.

Do NOT pack any vaccine storage unit too tightly.


To provide protection from light, keep vaccines and diluents in their original packaging with lids closed until ready for administration. Removing vaccines and diluents from their original packaging is not recommended as this can increase the risk of storage, handling, and administration errors.

Do NOT store loose vials or manufacturer-filled syringes outside of their packaging. This practice makes inventory management and expiration date tracking more difficult, increases the risk of administration errors, and exposes vaccines to light.

Store vaccines and diluents with similar packaging or names on different shelves to minimize the risk of administration errors. For example, DTaP and Tdap might be easily confused, as might Hib and HepB. Likewise, pediatric and adult formulations of the same vaccine should be labeled as such and stored on separate shelves.

Trays and Containers/Bins

Trays and uncovered containers/bins may be used to improve organization. Each should contain a single vaccine or diluent of the same type.

Allow sufficient space between the trays and containers for air circulation.


Clearly identify the location of each vaccine type and diluent by attaching labels to the shelves, trays, or containers in which the product is stored. Label pediatric and adult versions of the same vaccine to avoid confusion. The CDC provides sample vaccine label templates at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/storage/guide/vaccine-storage-labels.pdf).

A diluent must only be used with the corresponding vaccine. If the diluent is stored separately from the corresponding vaccine, label the shelf, tray, or container where it is stored (see the Immunization Action Coalition’s Vaccines with Diluents: How to Use Them at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p3040.pdf).

The CDC’s Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit is available in its entirety at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/storage/toolkit/storage-handling-toolkit.pdf.

Jennifer Karpinski is a senior editor at Pharmacy Purchasing & Products magazine, and can be reached at jkarpinski@ridgewoodmedia.com.

Rees Scientific introduces ReesCloud, a real time, cloud-based monitoring system that provides secure, continuous monitoring of equipment and environmental conditions. The system offers a cost-effective tool to monitor refrigeration, cold storage, and a host of critical environments. No software, PC, or server is required; only a data connection is needed. Users can monitor multiple locations from anywhere, and can view the status of their equipment via an app or browser. Notification capabilities are available through telephone, text, and email. The system is scalable for pharmacies large or small and is 21CFR compliant.

From Rees Scientific

Mesa Monitoring, a division of Mesa Labs, presents a continuous monitoring system (CMS) designed to protect valuable products, archive critical data, and deliver real-time alert notifications for regulated environments. The system monitors humidity, temperature/humidity, differential pressure, O2, CO2, water detection, air velocity, and more. Complete activity reporting enables review of specific equipment at any time, and also provides verifiable documentation.

From Mesa Monitoring

Primex Wireless introduces OneVue, a cloud-based system that provides 24/7 protection of medications without any software or servers to install or maintain. The system features a simple plug-and-play installation; sensors arrive at the facility preconfigured, and once a sensor is installed and has acquired a network signal, monitoring data is captured, stored, and viewable from the OneVue dashboard. Rather than using individual sensors, the system ties data to the physical equipment, room, or inventory being monitored, which maintains historical data trails. The Web-based interface allows monitoring of the entire facility from a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or computer, without the need to download extra software or plugins.

From Primex Wireless

The Multi-Probe Alarm System (MPS) from Hampshire Controls Corp monitors, alarms, and notifies the pharmacy based on programmed condition data. It includes a system relay or relay output per probe, battery backup, minimum/maximum conditions, email alarm notification (when connected to the user’s network), and can connect to the alert monitoring system. The system is ideal for refrigerator and freezer storage of pharmaceutical products and vaccines.

From Hampshire Controls Corp

VersaTrak wireless temperature monitoring system from the Veracity Group offers both 900 MHz and WiFi transmitter solutions, as well as a large selection of probes for every application. The system enables monitoring of refrigerators and freezers, room temperature and humidity, differential pressure in compounding rooms, real time particle count, and more. VersaTrak is a second-generation software created specifically for the health care industry. VersaTrak also created and patented Auto Node Calibration (ANC), a self-calibrating transmitter.

From Veracity Group

Hampshire Controls Corp’s Alert Monitoring System (AMS) is a PC-based system for continuous monitoring and data recording of environmental conditions. The system has local alarms and email alarm notifications when connected to the user’s network. The AMS can connect to single and multi-probed wired and wireless alarms. Daily and event log reports can be generated easily and emailed. Because the AMS is SQL-based, it can be integrated into an existing computer network for seamless remote data logging, and can be operated in a wireless/remote or stand-alone mode. The system features multiple user access capability and wireless network integration.

From Hampshire Controls Corp


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