Immunisation is a highly effective way of protecting individuals and communities from infectious disease. However, to remain potent, vaccines must be stored within the temperature range recommended by manufacturers [+2˚C to +8˚C].
Incorrect storage of vaccines is not only wasteful and costly to the NHS, the failure to store vaccines correctly, particularly at temperatures below the manufacturers’ recommendations, can reduce vaccine effectiveness and cause vaccine failures. Freezing may also cause hairline cracks in the container, leading to contamination of the contents.
All NHS organisations whose departments and providers (including independent contractors) hold vaccines requiring cold storage are asked to :
1. Ensure that all departments and providers (including independent contractors) holding vaccine stocks are aware of relevant policy on safe storage (for example, as given in Appendices 1 and 2 of the supporting information). Local policies should include having a designated person and deputy/ies responsible for receipt and storage of vaccines.
2. Have procedures in place to assure themselves that all relevant departments and providers adhere to relevant policy for vaccine cold chain storage. This includes reviewing refrigerator temperature readings in a manner that will identify if vaccines have been stored outside of manufacturers’ recommended temperature ranges before they are administered to patients.
3. Have procedures in place for remedial action where vaccines are stored outside manufacturers’ recommended temperature ranges, and ensure departments and providers are aware of these. Actions may include initial reference to the UKMi fridge database (www.ukmi.nhs.uk/applications/fridge) with subsequent advice sought from NHS medicines information services or the vaccine manufacturer.