Using COVID-19 vaccines appropriately in temporary vaccination sites

Mark Cheeseman, Professional Lead for Medicines Information, Midlands & East, Midlands and East Medicines Advice Service (East site)Published Last updated See all updates

In temporary vaccination sites, good medicines governance will ensure safe and secure handling. Key issues are listed and implementation tools are provided.


Temporary vaccination sites pose particular medicines governance issues. We’ve summarised some of the most pertinent of these here. These should be followed alongside our our existing advice for COVID-19 Vaccines.

Issues common across vaccines

A number of issues in temporary vaccination sites are common across vaccines. These include:

Cold-chain management

  • In spring and summer, ambient temperatures may exceed 30°C (especially in temporary buildings, tents, and stationary vehicles). Consider how the cold chain will be maintained and validated under high ambient temperature conditions. Our guidance on maintaining the vaccine cold chain will help.
  • Protect vaccines from accidental freezing e.g. when stored in cool boxes with ice packs.

Reducing microbial risk

  • Movement of punctured vials between multiple sites such as end user locations, presents a greater risk of microbiological contamination and proliferation than a single site delivery.
  • When planning a vaccination session, the Lead Pharmacist and Lead GP at the PCN designated site should undertake an assessment to identify the risk factors associated with the transfer of vaccine, including punctured vials, and ensure that mitigations are put in place.
  • The risk factors associated with the transfer of vials must also be identified, understood and mitigated by vaccinators.
  • Risk assessment and risk reduction measures are outlined in the NHS England Position Statement for reducing microbial risk when transporting COVID-19 vaccines in pop up, roving, and mobile mode.

Preparing and administering

  • Prepare vaccines for administration using aseptic technique in a suitable environment.
  • Do not subject vaccines to excessive shaking.
  • Protect vaccines from direct sunlight when transferring them from the preparation area to the point of administration.
  • Administer doses immediately after drawing up.

Sharps and waste

  • Take measures to prevent sharps injury at any stage.
  • Store and move waste safely before disposal. Use appropriate measures to minimise the risk of theft of waste vials and packaging: i.e. ensure empty vials are discarded into clinical waste and labelled packaging is defaced and destroyed.


Print and use

The attached can be printed and used daily by teams in temporary vaccination sites to assess whether issues specific to the use of COVID vaccines have been considered.

Use together with

The checklist should be used in conjunction with our process design material covering other aspects of good vaccines governance.

Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures to support delivery of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, and other SOP material from across SPS

Cold chain management for COVID-19 Vaccines

Maintaining the cold chain is vital to ensure vaccine efficacy. Excursions should be investigated appropriately, causes identified, and corrective action taken.

Handling multiple COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines have different handling and dosing requirements. Sites need to plan to reduce the risk of errors where multiple vaccines are available.

National advice

NHSE Standard operating procedure: roving and mobile models

Change history

  1. Resources checked and information remains correct.
  1. Links to pages summarising issues pertaining to COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and COVID-19 Vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech, and these individual records removed from website.
  1. Resources checked and information remains correct.
  1. Updated with link to national SOP.
  1. Updated to include reference to national position statement for reducing microbial risk.
  1. Updated to reflect availability of Comirnaty-branded product and associated changes
  1. Published