Managing COVID-19 Vaccines: Guidance and SOPs

Ian Allen, Pharmacy Quality Assurance Regional Specialist (NW), North West Pharmaceutical Quality AssurancePublished Last updated See all updates

A series containing guidance and Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) for managing COVID-19 vaccines


COVID-19 vaccines must be handled with care, and following the manufacturer’s instructions. Our new format articles and Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) will give vaccination providers the information they need to ensure that the vaccines are fit for purpose when they are administered.

This linked series of articles provides advice and SOPs for:

  • Ordering, receipt and storage of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes a SOPs for receipt and storage of vaccines:
    • at 2°C-8°C
    • frozen (Spikevax vaccines) at -25°C to -15°C and transfer into a refrigerator to thaw
    • frozen (Comirnaty) at ultra low temperatures (ULT) (-90°C to -60°C) and transfer into either a refrigerator to thaw, or into a ULT freezer for storage.
  • Transporting vaccines from their initial receiving site to a vaccination clinic or to domiciliary settings. This includes a SOP for using cool boxes to maintain the cold chain, and ensuring maximum journey times are not exceeded.
  • Preparation of each of the vaccines ready for administration, including control of expiry at room temperature. This includes a preparation SOP for each of the different vaccines.
  • Disposal of un-used vaccines, and dealing with spillages.

Vaxzevria and Nuvaxovid

As use of Vaxzevria is extremely limited and it will be phased out of the programme by September 2022 an example preparation procedure for the vaccine is no longer available.

SPS resources have not been prepared for Nuvaxovid because it does not have complex handling requirements and it will be prescribed and administered only in in specialist clinics.

About the articles and SOPs August 2022

When the first vaccines were available under the emergency provision of Regulation 174 in late 2020, SPS produced a set of detailed Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) and web pages for each of the vaccines. Over the following months, this set of SOPs and pages was updated and expanded to take into account new vaccines and changes to the information about the vaccines.

Now that the vaccines have Conditional Marketing Authorisations, and with the introduction of bivalent variations to the original vaccines, we have revised the SPS resources. Wherever possible we have consolidated the original SOPs into resources common to all vaccines, while retaining the vaccine-specific preparation SOPs. In addition, we have created a linked series of articles to enable users to understand the characteristics of each vaccine.

Sites may continue to use their existing localised SOPs for the vaccines that they already have in use, and use these resources to revise them as part of their regular review process. Alternatively, sites may start using the new August 2022 SOPs immediately.

Change history

  1. Nuvaxovid resources not prepared by SPS. Statement added to clarify this.
  1. Published