Cold Chain Monitoring

Vaccine audits

A vaccine storage self-audit must be completed every 12 months and more frequently where there have been:

  • problems with equipment or
  • cold chain breaches.

The National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’, Appendix 2 - Vaccine Storage Self Audit tool is available to complete the audit.

What is cold chain?

Cold chain is the system of transporting and storing vaccines within the safe temperature range of +2°C to +8°C. The optimal storage temperature for vaccines is +5°C.

National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5, 3rd edition

All staff responsible for ordering, storing, receiving, and administering vaccines must understand the principles of vaccine storage. The Commonwealth Government have developed resources to assist with best practices. The updated National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5 3rd edition and additional resources can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/national-vaccine-storage-guidelines-resource-collection.

Immunisation service providers must:

  • Store vaccines in a purpose-built vaccine refrigerator.
  • Educate all people responsible for handling vaccines so they understand the importance of effective vaccine management.
  • Nominate a staff member to be responsible for vaccine management, and a back-up staff member to take responsibility in their absence.
  • Ensure that policies, procedures and protocols are in place for vaccine management in all facilities within the practice or organisation.
  • Ensure that all people involved in vaccine transport, storage and administration are trained in vaccine management to ensure that the vaccines remain effective and potent.
  • Perform vaccine storage self-audits at least every 12 months.
  • Monitor the temperature of vaccine refrigerators twice daily, or more if required.
  • Ensure that plans are in place for responses to cold chain breaches and power failures in all facilities within the practice or organisation.
  • Report temperatures outside the +2°C to +8°C range to ACT Health, Immunisation Unit. Do not use or discard vaccines until advice is received.
  • Follow the guidelines for using ice packs/gel packs and monitoring vaccines in coolers.

What is a cold chain breach?

A cold chain breach occurs when vaccine storage temperatures deviate outside the recommended range of +2°C to +8°C. All vaccine fridge temperatures recorded below +2°C or above +8°C must be reported to ACT Immunisation Unit on 5124 9800.

What to do if there is a cold chain breach

Immunisation providers must report all cold chain breaches to the Vaccine Management Unit on 5124 9800 as soon as possible during office hours.

  1. Isolate vaccines and place a ‘DO NOT USE’ sign on the fridge.
  2. Continue to store vaccines between +2°C to +8°C. The vaccines may need to be transferred to an alternate purpose-built vaccine refrigerator or cooler if fridge is not back in range. Ensure the ACT Health data logger is transferred with the vaccines.
  3. Complete the Cold Chain Breach Reporting Form and return to the Vaccine Management Unit on fax: (02) 5124 9307 or email: immunisation@act.gov.au.
  4. Take steps to correct the cause of the breach and to prevent it from recurring.
  5. Do not discard vaccines provided by ACT Health.
  6. Ensure all staff are aware of correct cold chain management and provide education if needed.

Using ACTH LogTag Data Loggers

Page last updated on: 13 May 2021