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Cold chain breaches

A cold chain breach occurs when vaccine storage temperatures have been outside the recommended range of +2 degrees Celsius and +8 degrees Celsius.  The optimal storage temperature for vaccine is 5 degrees Celsius. Many vaccines are damaged or destroyed if stored at temperatures outside this range.

All temperatures recorded below +2 degrees Celsius or above +8 degrees Celsius involving government funded vaccines must be reported to the Queensland Health Immunisation Program (QHIP). This does not include temperature deviations or excursions up to 12 degrees Celsius lasting no longer than 15 minutes when stocktaking or restocking.

Prompt identification and reporting of a possible cold chain breach will prevent patients from being administered ineffective vaccine.

Vaccines provided by QHIP

The procedure for managing a cold chain breach is as follows:

  1. Isolate the affected vaccines immediately to prevent further use (e.g. put a sign on the refrigerator door) and notify relevant staff. Keep vaccines refrigerated between +2 degrees Celsius and +8 degrees Celsius (using alternative storage if necessary). Do not discard any vaccine at this point.
  2. Notify QHIP of the breach as soon as possible by phone.
    You will need to provide:
    • your vaccine service provider number
    • date of the breach
    • minimum and maximum temperature readings
    • when the thermometer was last reset
    • how long you think the temperature was outside +2 degrees Celsius and +8 degrees Celsius
    • what you think was the cause of the cold chain breach.
  3. If the breach occurs after hours, keep vaccines isolated until the next business day.

  4. QHIP will notify your local public health unit for follow-up with your practice. The public health unit will advise on the vaccines and help you take active steps to correct the problem and prevent it from happening again. Record notes on your temperature log about what happened and how the problem was corrected.

Privately purchased vaccines

For cold chain breaches involving privately purchased vaccines, please contact the vaccine manufacturer directly for advice.

Last updated: 22 June 2015