The new National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’ (3rd edition) 2019, were released in June 2019 and mailed to all Immunisation providers by the Australian Department of Health. Additional copies and resources can be downloaded and ordered from the Department of Health. A summary of key changes is available.
NSW Health has also introduced new vaccine storage and cold chain requirements including random audits and mandatory training requirements.
NSW Health has developed a Cold Chain Toolkit and Safe Vaccine Storage Checklist to support immunisation providers in general practice. Please also refer to answers to frequently asked questions.
The cold chain is a system of transporting and storing vaccines within the safe temperature range of +2C to +8C.
The cold chain begins from the time the vaccine is manufactured, continues through to the state or territory vaccine distribution centre and immunisation service provider and ends when the vaccine is administered.
Vaccines are sensitive medicines that must be protected from light and temperature fluctuations outside of 2°C to 8°C.
All immunisation providers responsible for ordering, storing, receiving and administering vaccines must understand the principles of vaccine storage.
The National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5 provide best practice guidelines for storing vaccines and managing the cold chain. Resources are available from the National Vaccine Storage resource collection. The new guidelines were released in June 2019. Refer to the summary of key changes.
The NSW Health Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management Policy provides mandatory requirements for the storage and management of vaccines in NSW public facilities. The policy directive includes a Vaccine Refrigerator Protocol for public facilities.
A new Cold Chain Toolkit and Safe Vaccine Storage Checklist are available to support immunisation providers in general practice.
All vaccines must be stored within the recommended temperature range of +2°C to +8°C at all times. Maintaining the cold chain is important to ensure that effective and potent vaccines are administered to patients.
Immunisation providers are responsible for ensuring all staff are trained in vaccine storage and cold chain management. The NSW Health Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management online training module should be used to facilitate staff education to equip staff to effectively manage the cold chain.
A vaccine storage self-audit must be completed every 12 months and more frequently where there have been problems with:
The following tools are available to complete the audit:
Please contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055 to discuss any concerns following the audit.
A cold chain breach occurs when vaccine storage temperatures have been outside of the recommended range of +2°C to +8°C during storage or transport. Excursions of >8°C to up to 12°C for no longer than 15 minutes may occur whilst restocking the refrigerator and are acceptable.
Immunisation providers must report all cold chain breaches to their local public health unit.
Immunisation providers are responsible for:
When receiving a vaccine delivery it is important to confirm that the cold chain has been maintained during transport and the integrity of the vaccines has not been compromised.
Before accepting the delivery and transferring the vaccines to a dedicated vaccine refrigerator, check the cold chain monitors and record the check on the vaccine minimum/maximum temperature chart.
If the cold chain monitor(s) has activated contact the NSW Vaccine Centre immediately on 1300 656 132.
While awaiting advice, the vaccines must be: