Be Prepared: Vaccine Supply During Emergencies

Vaccine Storage During Emergencies

Now more than ever, we are reminded that emergencies can strike at any time. Whether it’s a severe weather condition, natural disaster, pandemic or power outage the end result could compromise vaccine storage conditions. That’s why vaccine supply preparation is an important aspect of everyday practice management and success.

Establish Standard Operating Procedures 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all practices have an emergency standard operating procedure (SOP) that includes vaccine storage and handling. This plan will help your practice stay organized and ensure proper vaccine management. Once a plan has been put in place staff should be trained, highlight responsibilities and place printed SOPs near vaccine storage units to make sure that correct procedures can be easily accessed in an emergency. The Immunization Action Coalition produced a useful Emergency Response Worksheet. It includes instructions, a table for recording vaccines, and helpful numbers. It is also important to designate a vaccine coordinator to lead the emergency response.

Vaccines are expensive so having a plan to consult when an emergency presents itself is essential. Here are some preventative actions providers can take to prepare before, during and after an emergency.

  • Record the temperature of all storage units as well as the temperature outside of the units to track ongoing changes. 
  • Check to see if the cold chain has been compromised and mark vaccines that may have experienced temperature variations as “Do Not Use.”

Emergencies can happen anytime. Being prepared and having concrete plans in advance ensures that both providers and staff are ready to handle a future crisis, minimize disruption and provide needed support to patients.

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