Shipping Vaccines: How to Know if the Vaccine Temperature is Safe?The answer to this is not always cut and dry. But here are some guidelines I have followed that have helped me.
A vaccine is quite stable in the freeze dried form. There have been cases when a vaccine was held at 78 degrees F for six months (Intervet -- 5 way and Parvo) and it was fine, but it was kept at a constant temperature. Constant temperature is not so easy in shipping!
The biggest concern is when a shipping truck gets warm and cold. That is why ice packs and coolers are used to mitigate that temperature swing without freezing the vaccine. Freezing will shorten the shelf life.
When a vaccine comes with ice packs that have melted, the vaccine should still be good as long as the ice packs did their job creating constant shipping temperatures. One trick I use is to hold the vaccine to my cheek, and if it is cool I know the vaccine is still good. If it is cool to the touch of my cheek I know the ice packs kept the vaccine under room temperature and the vaccine stable. I am comfortable using the vaccine in these cases.
Your cheek is a pretty good indicator as it is sensitive to temperatures and more accurate than your hand. You may also use the underside of your arm, as that tissue is tender and sensitive as well.
If I hold the vaccine to my cheek and it is hot- I replace it. It is not worth the risk of using when vaccinating.
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Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.