CDC Publishes FAQs about New Vaccine Storage and Handling Guidelines

November 2012

Technically Speaking
Monthly Column by Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler MD
Technically Speaking is a monthly column written by IAC’s Executive Director Deborah Wexler, MD. The column is featured in The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center’s (VEC’s) monthly e-newsletter for healthcare professionals. Technically Speaking columns cover practical topics in immunization delivery such as needle length, vaccine administration, cold chain, and immunization schedules.
Check out a recent issue of Vaccine Update for Healthcare Providers. The VEC e-newsletter keeps providers up to date on vaccine-related issues and includes reviews of recently published journal articles, media recaps, announcements about new resources, and a regularly updated calendar of events.
CDC Publishes FAQs about New Vaccine Storage and Handling Guidelines
Published November 2012
Information presented in this article may have changed since the original publication date. For the most current immunization recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, visit
In early October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Interim Guidelines for Vaccine Storage and Handling, Frequently Asked Questions. Written by CDC experts, these 19 questions and answers (FAQs) give practical information often asked by people who provide immunization services and handle vaccines. The FAQs include these topics:
Is it more harmful for a refrigerated vaccine to be too warm or too cold?
What temperatures are considered excursions (lying outside the acceptable temperature range) for a refrigerated vaccine? A frozen vaccine?
How long does the temperature of the refrigerator have to be out of range to be considered an excursion?
How do I determine the best locations for vaccine placement in a storage unit?
What is the appropriate action to take if I check the temperature and it is out of range?
Is it still acceptable to store vaccines in a combination household refrigerator/freezer unit?
Can I use the freezer compartment of a combination unit to store frozen vaccines?
Does CDC recommend specific brands of vaccine storage equipment?
CDC published these FAQs shortly after releasing Vaccine Storage and Handling Interim Guidance to provide a preview of CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit, which is planned for release in the next few weeks. The toolkit will address such topics as the types of thermometers to use in vaccine refrigerators and freezers, the importance of digital data loggers, the types of refrigerator and freezer units to select for future purchase, and the need to rotate vaccine stock in refrigerators and freezers to prevent expired vaccines from being administered.
Here are links to many more useful resources related to vaccine storage and handling:
CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling web section (The toolkit will be available at this site as well.)
IAC’s Clinic Resources: Storage & Handling web section
California’s EZIZ: A one-stop shop for immunization training and resources


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