Cold chain management guidance during COVID-19

Cold chain management guidance during COVID-19

04 September, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has created challenging scenarios for immunisation providers which may have required adjustments to service delivery models and staffing levels.

Unfortunately, some of these changes have impacted vaccine cold chain management and vaccine delivery.

Vaccine cold chain management

Please ensure staff who are responsible for the vaccine cold chain management are familiar with the recommendations of the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’ including:

  • Ensuring all staff responsible for handling vaccines understand the importance of effective vaccine management
  • Storing vaccines between 2°C and 8°C
  • Nominating a staff member to be responsible for vaccine management, and a back-up staff member to take responsibility in their absence
  • Ensuring relevant policies, procedures and protocols for vaccine management are accessible for the relevant staff
  • Ensuring you have a working data logger in your purpose-built vaccine fridge set at 5-minute intervals and that the data logger report is routinely downloaded weekly to check for temperature breaches
  • Manual temperature checks and records are required twice daily for the current, the minimum and maximum temperatures
  • Ensuring there is a sign at the fridge power point ‘Do not disconnect power supply’ – this is important for cleaning staff in the event your service requires a deep clean

What to do if your service is required to shut for deep cleaning? 

Prior to closing the service:  

  • Do a manual check of the vaccine fridge temperatures and record minimum and maximum temperatures 
  • Ensure the data logger is in the fridge and working to record 5 minutely temperatures
  • Lock the fridge
  • Ensure the power point has a sign 'Do not disconnect supply to the Vaccine fridge'  to ensure inadvertent disconnection by cleaners
  • If a vaccine delivery has been placed contact Onelink to cancel the order

On reopening service:  

  • Do a manual check of the vaccine fridge temperatures and record
  • Download the datalogger and check for temperature deviations
  • Manage a Cold Chain Breach as required
  • Place a new vaccine order as required

Vaccine delivery

The area of most concern is delivery of vaccine to providers with changed business hours which have not been highlighted on the order form and resulted in delivery to a service that is closed.

If you have current circumstances which are making the receipt of vaccine difficult, please do not hesitate to contact Onelink to discuss. Onelink will take every possible precaution to ensure that your vaccine delivery arrives to you safely on a day when you have trained staff available.

Onelink can be contacted via email or on their phone line 03 8588 1042.

Accepting a delivery and receipting of stock

Please ensure that your organisation has effective and efficient processes in place to receive and store vaccine deliveries, including:

  • A trained staff member to check the Tag Alert when unpacking the delivery and notifying Onelink immediately if the delivery has breached
  • Receipting of stock into your vaccine inventory and immediate transfer to the purpose-built vaccine fridge - this is especially crucial in country areas where vaccines are packed with ice

Additional information relating to cold chain management,including an educative cold chain management webinar, can be found on the DHHS Immunisation website. Resources can be ordered from the National Vaccine Storage Guideline resource collection. 

Please email the Immunisation Unit for further assistance. Please check the DHHS COVID-19 website regularly for updates.