Vaccine Storage: How to Store VaccinesLast updated: June 29, 2021
Proper vaccine storage is critical to ensure vaccine efficacy. Whether it's how to store rabies vaccine, parvovirus, leptospirosis, kennel cough or any other cat or dog vaccine, you want to make sure you're giving your pet the best shot at staying healthy.
Our Revival Education Team put together advice on how to keep your vaccines properly refrigerated until they are needed. Here are the top ten vaccine storage tips:
- Don't keep vaccines in the door or the top or bottom shelf of the refrigerator. You want to make sure their temperature doesn't fluctuate or get too warm. It's ideal to store vaccines in the middle of the unit, two to three inches from the walls, top, bottom, door, and cold air vent so air can easily circulate around them.
- Consider what else you are storing in that refrigerator. If you are using the fridge to store hot leftovers, you need to consider that the hot food placed in the fridge will change the inside temperature for a brief time. To help maintain a constant temperature, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends not putting any food or beverages in the same refrigerator used to store vaccines. The CDC recommends replacing the crisper bins with water bottles to help maintain consistent temperature. But make sure to label those water bottles "Do not drink". Those water bottles are there to help maintain proper temperature. When one is taken out and replaced, it takes time for the new bottle to get back to the right temperature. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does NOT permit storing vaccines and drugs with food and beverages for human consumption.
- According to the CDC the storage temperature for refrigerated vaccines should be between 36ºF and 46ºF with an ideal temperature of 40ºF. Refrigerated vaccines stored in an area that is warmer or cooler than the recommended temperature range, should not be used. Never freeze refrigerated vaccines. The CDC recommends checking and recording the refrigerator temperature daily. Using a refrigerator thermometer that measures the min/max for the day is helpful. If your thermometer does not display min/max temperatures, the CDC recommends recording the temperature a minimum of two times per day (morning and evening).
- The CDC recommends using a standard size refrigerator, not a dorm style fridge.
- Always store vaccines in their original packaging with the lids closed. This will help prevent exposure to light, eliminate mix ups and make it easier to check the expiration date before administering. Always put the vaccines that are first to expire in the front.
- When vaccinating a litter of puppies, take out the needed doses and put the rest of the tray back in the refrigerator. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours to get through the process especially with a large litter. And if you are deworming, cutting toenails or anything else as well as marking the health records, it can take that long to get everyone done. Putting the vaccines in a bowl or an ice chest with an ice pack on top of it will help keep them the proper temperature.
- Once you have mixed the two portions together, never put the empty vials back in the tray. Dispose of them in a sharps container along with the needle and syringe. And never put used needles or syringes in the tray to store in the refrigerator. Store unused needles and syringes in a shoe storage box or a container with a snap on lid to help keep everything contained and clean. Remember to peel the labels off the vaccine vials, both the diluent and vaccine vials, and include these for your record keeping.
- Create awareness. Make sure those who are around this refrigerator are aware of the contents inside. Posting a "Do Not Unplug" sign on the refrigerator and near the electrical outlet can be helpful.
- If you have a large inventory of vaccine, consider having a battery backup or generator to keep the vaccine safe if there is a power outage.
- Look at how often the refrigerator is used. Is this a fridge that is opened frequently? Is the door opened and held open for a while? Remember, each time the door is opened, cool air escapes and warm air enters which changes the internal temperature. Ideally you want to store them in a refrigerator that is not used often.
Pet vaccines from Revival Animal Health are shipped using specially designed polar boxes that have been extensively tested to make sure your pet's vaccines stay cool inside for 48 hours.
When your vaccines do arrive, do this simple trick. When you open the box, hold the vaccine to your cheek or the underside of your arm. If the vaccine feels cool, it is still good. If it feels warm or hot, replace it. It is not worth the risk.
If you have any other further questions on vaccines or vaccine storage, reach out to our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751.
Use the Revival Vaccine Finder to help choose the right vaccines for your dog or cat!
Watch How Our Warehouse Stores and Packages VaccinesSee how we store and package vaccines, including why we place the ice pack on top.
Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.
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.