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2018 Storage and Handling Update

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has updated storage and handling guidelines for the Vaccines for Children (VFC) and Vaccines for Adults At Risk (VFAAR) programs. This update includes:

  1. New policies
  2. New forms
  3. New tools
  4. Contact us

These new guidelines help ensure that the cold chain is preserved and vaccines are protected.

New policies
These policies ensure that each dose of vaccine administered to patients is viable and effective. Please share this information with all staff who work with VFC and VFAAR vaccines.

Using Digital Data Loggers: Monitor all VFC/VFAAR vaccine with a certified, calibrated digital data logger (DDL) during:

  • Routine onsite vaccine storage
  • Vaccine transport
  • Mass vaccination clinics

PDPH will store back-up DDLs at our offices. You may need a back-up thermometer to:

  • Defrost units
  • Monitor new units
  • Identify issues with your primary DDL

If you need a back-up thermometer, contact TempCheck at 215-685-6777.

Recording vaccine temperature:Continue to use paper temperature logs to check and record vaccine storage unit temperatures twice a day. Record the min and max temperatures at the start of each clinic day.

We will review paper temperature logs at our yearly compliance visits, or during unannounced storage and handling visits. Keep copies of both paper and digital temperature logs on file for at least 3 years.

Storing vaccine: To protect the viability of vaccine, it’s important to store vaccines at acceptable temperatures in appropriate storage units.

Dormitory-style (or bar-style) units – refrigerators with one exterior door and an evaporator plate (cooling coil) for freezing – are not reliable enough to safely store VFC/VFAAR vaccine.

Freezers that are part of a household combination refrigerator/freezer unit are also not acceptable for storing VFC/VFAAR vaccine. For vaccines that must be stored in a freezer, you must use a standalone freezer unit.

Never use dorm-style units or household freezers – even to temporarily store vaccine while your’e defrosting your main units.

New forms

Updated forms are designed to help you maintain the cold-chain at your site. Please download and review the updated documents and fill out the necessary forms. Download them here.

  • Paper temperature logs: use the new log with your certified, calibrated DDLs. Please review the instructions to make sure you’re documenting temperatures correctly.
  • Vaccine management plan: this ensures that you can protect the viability of VFC/VFAAR vaccine. Keep this near the vaccine storage units.
  • Emergency vaccine management plan: Keep this near your vaccine storage units. Fax page 1 to VFC/VFAAR, and whenever you make updates.
  • Out-of-range Temperature Response Form: use this to document when vaccines are exposed to out-of-range temperatures, determine if you can still use the vaccines, and report your findings.

New tool: Clinic Tools, a new feature coming to PhilaVax

We have a new tool in PhilaVax: Clinic Tools, which makes it easier for you to meet program requirements.

Over the next few months, we will contact Vaccine Coordinators to conduct Clinic Tools trainings – after which your site can use Clinic Tools to:

  • Submit temperature logs online
  • Keep up-to-date clinic information like phone numbers, address, staff information, and delivery hours

Contact us if you need assistance

We know that changes can be confusing, so don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have questions about what to do.

Questions about storage and handling, out of range temperatures, or the DDLs? Contact Adam Howsare and Alexis Bridges at 215-685-6777 or