How To Safely Store Vaccines

Vaccines needs to be managed and stored very carefully and lose their potency if certain requirements are not met.   A vaccine improves immunity to a particular disease as the body’s immune system will recognise the microbe if it re-enters the body and will destroy it.

What is the Cold Chain?

The ‘cold chain’ is the system of transporting and storing vaccines within the safe temperature range of +2°C to +8°C.    The cold chain begins from the time the vaccine is manufactured,  continues through to the state or territory vaccine distribution centres and ends when the vaccine is administered.

What is a Cold Chain Breach?

A ‘cold chain breach’ has occurred if vaccine storage temperatures have been outside the recommended range of +2°C to +8°C.  It excludes fluctuations up to +12°C, lasting no longer than 15 minutes, as may occur when stock taking or restocking refrigerators.

How Sensitive are Vaccines to Heat and Cold?

Vaccines are delicate biological substances that can become less effective or destroyed if they are either:

  • frozen
  • allowed to get too warm, or
  • exposed to direct sunlight or UV light, including fluorescent light.

When vaccines are repeatedly exposed to temperatures outside the +2°C to +8°C range, the loss of potency is cumulative and cannot be reversed.