Department of Health

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, vaccine fridge monitoring and maintenance, managing light sensitive vaccines, power outages, refrigerator failure and mobile and emergency vaccine storage.
  • Use the checklist to help you develop a cold chain protocol.

Vaccine storage self audit

  • Every health service should have a written vaccine cold chain protocol that links or includes information found on this page. Health services should conduct an annual Vaccine storage self auditExternal Link .

Vaccine cold chain – staff knowledge

Make sure:

  • All staff have knowledge of cold chain procedures and can access the National vaccine storage guidelines: Strive for 5External Link .
  • 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 original 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.
  • Information from the data logger should be downloaded at least weekly (or more frequently if recommended by the manufacturer), reviewed and digitally stored.
  • 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.

More information

Reviewed 21 December 2020


Contact details

Opening hours:  9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Immunisation Unit Department of Health

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