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

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 25°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.

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.

Issues specific to individual vaccines


Issues pertaining to individual vaccines are summarised in the articles below.

Using COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca appropriately in temporary vaccination sites

Advice on appropriately transporting, storing, preparing and administering COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca for a "drive-through" model.

Using COVID-19 Vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech appropriately in temporary vaccination sites

Advice on appropriately transporting, storing, preparing and administering COVID-19 Vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech. Assumes the vaccine is received thawed.