The Importance of Storing Your Animal Vaccines Appropriately

PHCNA would like to share some information about the importance of storing vaccines properly to ensure pet safety. Just like vaccines for humans, animal vaccines have specific storage requirements. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) references CDC guidelines for storage and handling of vaccines and states that most vaccines for animals should be stored between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 46°F).
Exposure to any inappropriate conditions can affect the potency of any refrigerated vaccine, but a single exposure to freezing temperatures (0°C [32°F] or colder) can destroy potency. Liquid vaccines containing an aluminum adjuvant can permanently lose potency when exposed to freezing temperatures. 1
It's also important to note that appearance is not a reliable indicator that vaccines have been stored in appropriate conditions. Even when exposed to freezing temperatures, vaccines may not appear frozen - giving no indication of reduced or lost potency.2 For this reason, it is important to store your animal vaccines in a purpose-built refrigerator.

Why Can't I Use a Domestic Refrigerator for Vaccine Storage?

Vaccines for humans have been studied in-depth, giving us a guide as to how refrigeration challenges should be addressed with vaccines for animals. When selecting a refrigeration unit, it is crucial to consider the unit's ability to recover temperatures between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 46°F) after frequent door openings.
In the upcoming months (anticipated as early as March of 2021), a new CDC-sponsored NSF/ANSI standard (NSF 456) will take effect. This new standard will make it easier to identify qualified storage products that ensure protection from freezing, tight temperature uniformity, rapid recovery following door openings and other requirements essential to continued vaccine viability.
When purchasing a purpose-built refrigerator, there are a few key questions to consider.
  1. Does the refrigerator maintain that temperature range throughout the cabinet? This consideration is key so that vaccines can be stored uniformly on any approved shelf in the unit.
  2. How reliable is the refrigerator? You should look for a vaccine refrigerator that has a long, consistent track record of performance.
  3. Does the refrigerator meet current and emerging guidelines from the CDC, NSF, and ANSI, which include strict storage requirements for vaccines and biologics? Following recommended guidelines is the most effective way to ensure no vaccine goes to waste and no pet goes unprotected.

Here are a Few Tips for Animal Vaccine Storage:

  1. Do not overload the refrigerator. Leave room for air to circulate.
  2. In undercounter refrigerators, do not put product on the ‘hump’ at the rear of the refrigerator.
  3. Encourage shorter door openings. Do not make the fridge drive rapidly to colder temperatures.
  4. Pay attention to load lines, and do not stack product above the load line.
  5. If purchasing new refrigerators, request temperature mapping data.
  6. Do not assume a domestic refrigerator will protect vaccine viability.
Uniformity, recovery and reliability are the most important factors for any vaccine storage. View our pharmaceutical refrigerators to learn more.