Key messages

  • All health services should have a written vaccine cold chain protocol.
  • The protocol should cover staff knowledge of cold chain, delivery and breach protocols, vaccine fridge requirements, and vaccine fridge monitoring and maintenance.
  • Use the checklist to help you develop a cold chain protocol.
  • Every health service should have a written vaccine cold chain protocol that includes the checklist found on this page. Health services should also conduct an annual self-audit using the National vaccine storage guidelines: Strive for 5.

Vaccine cold chain – staff knowledge

Make sure:

  • All staff have a basic knowledge of cold chain procedures.
  • New staff are educated about cold chain protocols.
  • Staff can identify the people with primary and back-up responsibility for cold chain management.
  • Responsibility for cold chain management is defined in the relevant staff member’s position description.

Vaccine cold chain – delivery and breach protocols

Tips to manage the cold chain:

  • Order vaccine monthly and rotate vaccine stock to use the earliest expiry vaccines first.
  • Refrigerate vaccine deliveries promptly and do not remove vaccines from their packaging.
  • Manage cold chain breaches promptly.
  • Have ice packs and an esky available in the event of a long term cold chain breach.
  • Make sure the cold chain breach magnet is always on the fridge door.

Vaccine fridge requirements

Always make sure that:

  • The health service has a purpose-built vaccine fridge with adequate capacity for vaccines.     
  • The fridge is placed against an interior wall of the building.
  • The fridge has an accurate minimum and maximum temperature monitor.
  • The fridge has a data logger to identify the duration of a breach, and the data are routinely downloaded and monitored every week, and as soon as possible after a temperature breach is identified.
  • The front footings of the fridge are raised to tilt back and help the door to shut.
  • A sign is placed above the fridge power point that reads ‘Vaccine refrigerator – do not turn off or disconnect’.

Vaccine fridge monitoring and maintenance

Make sure that:

  • Fridge temperatures are recorded and reset at the start of the day, before vaccine is used, and at the end of every working day.
  • Data loggers should be set to record temperatures at 5-minute intervals. 
  • The health service has an annual maintenance schedule for the fridge and data logger.

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