Proper vaccine storage and handling are important factors in preventing and eradicating many common vaccine-preventable diseases. Yet, each year, storage and handling errors result in the revaccination of many patients and significant financial loss due to wasted vaccines. Failure to store and handle vaccines properly can reduce vaccine potency, resulting in inadequate immune responses in patients and poor protection against disease. Patients can lose
confidence in vaccines and providers if they require revaccination because the vaccines they received may have been
This blog provides information, recommendations, and resources to assist you in properly storing and handling your vaccine supply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
brings together best practices from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) General Best Practice
Guidelines for Immunization,* product information from vaccine manufacturers, and results of scientific studies.
Implementing these best practices and recommendations will help protect your patients, safeguard your vaccine supply, and avoid the unnecessary costs of revaccinating patients and replacing expensive vaccines.
Vaccines for Children Program
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children. VFC providers are
important partners in making sure VFC-eligible children receive viable, properly handled vaccine.
This toolkit provides general background information on many of the VFC storage and handling requirements and
illustrates best practices essential to safeguarding the public vaccine supply.
If you are a VFC provider or receive other vaccines purchased with public funds, consult your state or local
immunization program (referred to throughout this document as “immunization program”*) to ensure you are
meeting all mandatory storage and handling requirements that are specific or tailored to your jurisdiction.
You may see vendors use terms such as “VFC-compliant,” “CDC-compliant,” or “satisfies VFC requirements” in their marketing materials or on their websites. In this context, "compliance" and related terms may lead consumers to incorrectly believe that CDC or the VFC program has independently assessed and verified the quality of these products. CDC/VFC is not authorized to assess, validate, verify, or endorse the products or services of private companies. Should you encounter this type of language in vendor marketing materials, please keep in mind that neither CDC nor the VFC program has validated any product or service for compliance with CDC or VFC program requirements or standards.
Proper vaccine storage and handling play critical roles in efforts to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines exposed to storage temperatures outside the recommended ranges may have reduced potency, creating limited protection and resulting in the revaccination of patients and thousands of dollars in the wasted vaccine.
Proper storage and handling begin with an effective vaccine cold chain. A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain that includes all vaccine-related equipment and procedures. The cold chain begins with the cold storage unit at the manufacturing plant, extends to the transport and delivery of the vaccine and correct storage at the provider facility, and ends with the administration of the vaccine to the patient.
If the cold chain is not properly maintained, vaccine potency may be lost, resulting in a useless vaccine supply.
Vaccines must be stored properly from the time they are manufactured until they are administered. Potency is reduced every time a vaccine is exposed to an improper condition. This includes overexposure to heat, cold, or light at any step in the cold chain. Once lost, potency cannot be restored.
Exposure to any inappropriate conditions can affect the potency of any refrigerated vaccine, but a single exposure to freezing temperatures (0° C [32° F] or colder) can actually destroy potency. Liquid vaccines containing an adjuvant can permanently lose potency when exposed to freezing temperatures.