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Freezer Tips: Vaccine Storage

Mar 28, 2013



The CDC outlines three main refrigeration types in their toolkits for vaccine storage. They refer to 'dual-zone', pharmaceutical and freezerless refrigerators. Each refrigerator type has specific "do's and don't", but one should always refer to the technical manual that was provided with the unit for best practices. We'll shed light on a few of the common misconceptions/mistakes in vaccine refrigeration, and the best practices that should follow. You can view the official version of the toolkit by clicking here.

  • Never: Allow vials to touch the top shelf.
  • Never: Place vials under the cooling vent (will skew readings)
  • Never: Store in crisp drawers
  • Never: Store on bottom shelf (runs colder)
  • Never: Replace original packaging with homemade labels

Always: Place vaccines in the center of the refrigerator in the original packaging. Keep precise organization of every refrigerator, and use plastic trays to divide the refrigerator into sections. 

  • Never: Block the vents/circulating air with vaccines or other devices
  • Never: Place a temperature sensor on the upper or lower racks

Always: Organize vaccines by specific type, and keep a "map" outside of the refrigerator for visual reference points. 

Always: Place temperature sensors in mock locations that best emulate the variance that a vaccine may experience. The center of the rack is the best possible location, but if vaccines are stored in lower/upper racks, an additional temperature sensor may be necessary. If possible, utilize a temperature sensor in the lower, middle, and upper racks for extra precaution. 

Always: Compile sensor data at least once a week, and maintain the logged data for a minimum of 2-3 years. In the event of a disaster, audit, or inspection, these reports will be crucial to uncovering a cause or culprit. 

Always: If an online interface is available (to view all temperature sensor readings), specify the temperature sensor location/vaccine coverage with a specific name to ensure clarity. Most interfaces will allow you to "name" the sensors.


If possible: Purchase a temperature sensor system that contains a battery-back up. The costs associated with vaccine contamination are tremendous, and the risks that surround the delivery of tainted vaccines (due to a monitoring failure) are extreme.Typically, the immediate and sudden loss of A/C power indicates a power outage. A battery-backed sensor will not lose power during an outage and can often send a preliminary alert that signifies the loss of A/C power.

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