Cold Chain Management Over The Holiday Period

20 December, 2016

All immunisation providers should ensure effective cold chain management for vaccines using the National vaccine storage guidelines: Strive for 5 and the vaccine cold chain protocol checklist. This includes strategies for maintaining cold chain during a power outage and monitoring cold chain during vaccine transport.

Cold chain management information including a cold chain breach reporting form and actions to take in the event of a power outage is available on the Department of Health website

Immunisation providers are reminded that best practice cold change monitoring recommends having a data logger in your fridge at all times. This ensures that in the event of a power failure when the practice is closed it is possible to download data to accurately assess if a breach has occurred.

Before closing the clinic

  • Reduce orders to minimise the vaccine stock levels.
  • Check that the door is closed firmly and lock the fridge if possible.
  • Check the power supply at the facility remains on.
  • Record the min-max temperatures at the end of the last working day.

Re-opening the clinic

  • Record the min-max temperatures at the start of the first working day.
  • Check and download the data logger if available.
  • Report any breach to the Vic Department of Health Immunisation section as soon as practicable Ph: 1300 882 008
  • Re-order stock for use over the coming one month period.

Single event breach - exceptions (From January 2015 in Victoria)

You do not need to complete a Cold Chain Breach (CCB) report form for vaccine that is exposed, on a single occasion, to a temperature of less than 25°C for less than 6 hours (for example, during a power outage). You can continue to use government-supplied vaccines that have been breached in this single-event scenario. However, you must take the following actions.

  • Determine the cause of the breach and, where possible, address this to reduce the risk of the event recurring.
  • Record the date and duration of the breach and any actions taken.
  • Identify the vaccine exposed to a single-event breach by marking it with a pen so you can identify it if the same vaccine is breached a second time.

Cold Chain Breach (CCB) form:

A cold chain breach is exposure of vaccines to temperatures outside the recommended range of 2°C to 8°C, excluding fluctuations up to 12°C for less than 15 minutes when restocking, cleaning the fridge or stock taking.

Use the CCB report form to report breaches such as:

  • freeze breach;
  • heat breach greater than or equal to six hours;
  • heat breach greater than or equal to 25°C; or
  • vaccines breached on more than one occasion.

The following steps should be taken for any of the above cold chain breach scenarios.

  1. Determine the cause of the breach and, where possible, address this to reduce the risk of the event recurring.
  2. Isolate the vaccines and place a sign on the vaccine fridge 'Do not use or discard vaccines until further notice'.
  3. Complete the CCB report form as soon as possible and fax the form to 1300 768 088 or email it to
  4. Await advice about what to do with each vaccine. If you need urgent advice contact the Immunisation Section on 1300 882 008.

Download and complete the cold chain breach form at:

Further resources:

Cold Chain Protocol

Cold chain management power outage strategies