Vaccines have to be stored properly.
Mostly that means that they must be kept at a proper temperature, not getting too hot or too cold, “to protect quality and potency” of the vaccines.
While that can be a challenge in some parts of the world, as they go to great lengths to maintain the cold chain for vaccines, in developed countries, it typically means knowing whether to put the vaccine in the refrigerator or the freezer.
Even in the most industrialized city, a power failure can happen or someone can just unplug the refrigerator by mistake.
Which Vaccines Need to be Refrigerated?
While some vaccines are stored frozen, most must be refrigerated.
Vaccines that are kept refrigerated should be stored in a vaccine refrigerator at a temperature between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C), with a target of 40°F (5°C).
Of available vaccines, those that must be refrigerated include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Gardasil9 (all HPV vaccines)
- influenza (all flu vaccines)
- IPV (polio)
- Menactra, Menveo, Bexsera, Trunembra (Meningococcal)
- Prevnar 13, Pneumovax (Pneumococcal)
- RotaTeq, RotaRix (Rotavirus)
- Pentacel, Pediarix (all DTaP containing vaccines)
- Tdap (Adacel and Boostrix)
*The MMR vaccine vaccine can be stored in a freezer or a refrigerator.
Making things a little more confusing, refrigerator stable versions of Varivax and ProQuad, which are usually stored frozen, are also available. They have a shelf life of 24 months when refrigerated, but may also be stored in a freezer.
What do you do if something goes wrong and your refrigerated vaccines have gotten too warm or too cold?
“If you find that a vaccine has been exposed to an inappropriate temperature, determine the reason for the temperature alteration, mark the vaccine “Do Not Use,” and contact the manufacturer or the state or local health department to determine if the vaccine can be used.”
Immunization Action Coalition on Ask the Experts about Vaccine Storage and Handling
Getting educated about proper vaccine storage and handling can avoid many incidents and help you be well prepared if something does go wrong. Once you are all set up and ready to store your vaccines, you just have to know where to put them.
What To Know About Storing Vaccines in a Refrigerator
Vaccines must be kept at a proper temperature, not getting too hot or too cold, “to protect quality and potency” of the vaccines.
More About Storing Vaccines in a Refrigerator
- AAP – Immunization Training Guide & Practice Procedure Manual
- CDC – Vaccine Storage and Handling
- Vaccine Storage and Handling Resources
- Ask the Experts about Vaccine Storage and Handling
- Checklist for Safe Vaccine Storage and Handling
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