Department of Health

Light-sensitive vaccines

Key messages

  • Some vaccines lose potency and effectiveness if they are exposed to light.
  • Check the Product Information for light sensitivity.
  • Store vaccines in their original packaging to protect them from light.
  • Use the Cold Chain Breach Report form to report a light exposure breach.

Some vaccines lose potency and effectiveness if they are exposed to sunlight, ultraviolet (UV) or fluorescent light.

Protect light-sensitive vaccines from light at all times during storage until the vaccines are administered.

Light-sensitive vaccine – Product Information (PI)

The ‘Storage conditions’ section in the PI tells you if the vaccine should be protected from light. Registered brands of light-sensitive vaccines on the National Immunisation Program schedule include:

  • Bexsero
  • Gardasil9
  • Infanrix hexa
  • Infanrix IPV
  • M-M-R-II
  • Nimenrix
  • Pneumovax23
  • Priorix
  • Priorix-Tetra
  • Proquad
  • Rotarix
  • Varivax
  • Zostavax

The 2022 seasonal influenza vaccines brands include Afluria Quad, Fluad Quad, Fluarix Tetra & Vaxigrip Tetra.

In addition BCG, Tubersol and Japanese encephalitis vaccine brands (Imojev and JEspect) must be protected from light.

Light-sensitive vaccines – storage

Store all vaccines in their packaging to protect against:

  • exposure to sunlight and UV light
  • temperature fluctuations
  • possible breach of sterility
  • tampering
  • vaccine administration error.

Purpose-built vaccine fridges with a glass door increase the risk of light exposure if the vaccines are removed from their original packaging.

Vaccine fridges must have adequate capacity to store 1 month’s supply of vaccine stock in its original packaging. Consider the volume of vaccines you store during peak times, such as influenza season – you may require more than one vaccine fridge.

Outreach immunisation sessions – storage

Portable coolers should have adequate capacity to transport vaccines in their original packaging.

For mass vaccination, such as school-based programs, unpack enough vaccine to be used on the day. Store the vaccine in opaque containers before it is administered.

Light-exposure breach reporting

Use the Cold chain breach report form to report light exposure breaches for light-sensitive vaccines. Send the form to the department as soon as possible by email or fax.

Do not use or discard vaccine until you have received advice from the department about the breach. Label the vaccine ‘Do not use’ and isolate it from other vaccines.

Reviewed 24 March 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Opening hours:  9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Immunisation Unit Department of Health

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