Maintaining the COVID-19 vaccines cold chain

Ian Allen, Pharmacy Quality Assurance Regional Specialist (NW), North West Pharmaceutical Quality AssurancePublished

Correct storage of the vaccine ensures its efficacy and the cold chain must be maintained during storage and transportation

Why this is important

Effective cold chain management of any COVID-19 vaccine is key to ensuring the success of the national vaccination programme.

Organisations must prevent deviations in refrigerated storage temperature, and ensure that vaccines are used within their individual requirements. This page gives good practice advice for storage and transportation; additional articles (series guide above) cover other aspects.

Protocols and policies required by organisations

The Green Book (Chapter 3) and the PHE Vaccine Incident Guidance states that all immunisation providers should have a named individual responsible for vaccine storage and that there are policies, protocols and procedures for the maintenance of the vaccine cold chain.

We recommend that at their simplest they must include:

  • How to set up a new fridge, including temperature range
  • How to routinely maintain and monitor the fridge
  • Maintaining the cold chain during transportation
  • How to handle any incidents that occur

They should include detailed written emergency vaccine storage and handling plans which cover the actions to take in the event of out of range temperature excursions or refrigerator break down.

Our series of articles will help you form local policies and procedures.