CDC Releases 2020 Version of Its Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit

January 2020

Technically Speaking
Monthly Column by Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler MD
IAC Executive Director Dr. Deborah Wexler writes Technically Speaking, a column featured in each issue of Vaccine Update for Healthcare Professionals, the monthly e-newsletter from the Vaccine Education Center (VEC) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Technically Speaking columns cover practical topics in immunization delivery such as vaccine administration techniques, storage and handling, contraindications and precautions, and scheduling.
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CDC releases 2020 version of its Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
Published January 2020
CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit has just been updated for 2020. This 48-page guide reflects the best practices for vaccine storage and handling compiled from ACIP recommendations, product information from vaccine manufacturers, and scientific studies.

Changes in the 2020 Toolkit provide clarifying language and new definitions only, i.e., no new recommendations have been implemented. Updated language may be found on the following topic areas:

  • Frequency of checking temperatures in vaccine storage units – Language has been added to clarify a recommendation first included in the 2018 Toolkit, when CDC recommended that storage units being monitored by a temperature monitoring device (TMD) that records min/max* temperatures needed to have the temperature checked only once each day. The 2020 update clarifies that TMDs that do not read min/max temperatures should be checked 2 times a day, at the start and end of the workday.

*A “min/max” TMD provides readings for the coolest (minimum) and warmest (maximum) temperature readings in a storage unit over a set period of time. After the readings are reviewed, the TMD is reset and the process is repeated until the next reading.

  • Defrosting manual-defrost freezers – The Toolkit provides guidance that defrosting of manual-defrost freezers should take place “when the frost exceeds either 1 cm or the manufacturer’s suggested limit.”
  • Adjustment of storage unit temperatures – CDC inserted language noting that storage unit temperatures should be stabilized “between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) for a refrigerator…” Previous language also provided a suggested midpoint target of “around 5°C (40°F).” IAC has confirmed with CDC that, although the vaccine may be correctly stored anywhere within the stated temperature range, it is still appropriate to aim for the midpoint, i.e., “aim for 5°C.” Therefore, this wording will be retained on IAC’s temperature monitoring logs.
  • Beyond Use Date – The 2020 Toolkit clarifies that, if a vaccine has no Beyond Use Date (BUD), the expiration date provided by the manufacturer should be used.
  • New/updated definitions – A new definition is now included for “portable vaccine storage unit,” and the definition for “qualified container and packout” has been clarified.

Related Links

From CDC

From IAC

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