Vaccine Storage and the Use of Vaccine Fridges in Doctor’s Surgeries

CoolMed graphic showing a doctor administering a vaccine

Doctor’s surgeries, GP practices and other medical centres must store vaccines correctly in order to maintain patient safety.

Most vaccines require refrigeration to ensure they sustain their potency, work correctly and provide patients with protection against specific diseases. To do this, specialist medical or vaccine fridges must be used.

The Cold Chain & Vaccine Storage

Vaccines must be kept within a very strict temperature range. If they fall outside this temperature range, known as “the Cold Chain” (+2⁰C to +8⁰C), they can become ineffectual and must be disposed of.

Wasted vaccines can put patient health at risk and leads to a lot of wasted money. The NHS already spends billions of pounds on vaccinations each year, without having to factor in the cost of wasted vaccines.

From the moment vaccines are manufactured, to the point of their administration, vaccines must be kept within the temperature range of +2⁰C to +8⁰C. This temperature range must be maintained using specialist medical refrigerators – as set out in the NHS Green Book.

During vaccine transportation, the Cold Chain is maintained using temperature-controlled cool boxes.

Vaccine Fridges

Once vaccines arrive at a doctor’s surgery, they are placed into a specialist vaccine fridge that constantly measures and controls the temperature of the vaccinations, ensuring they are fit for use.

Should vaccines within a GP surgery ever fall outside the Cold Chain temperature range, an alarm on the vaccine fridge will sound, instantly alerting medical professionals to the problem. This is why domestic and commercial fridges can’t be used to store medical products – they simply don’t have the features needed to monitor and keep medical products safe.

This being said, maintaining the Cold Chain and ensuring vaccines are fit for use requires more than just a specialist vaccine fridge. Healthcare staff must also know how to manage vaccines.

How to Correctly Store & Manage Vaccines

When it comes to the management of vaccines, we recommend following these key points:

  • Monitor stock and place orders every two to four weeks based on need. This prevents over or under stocking vaccines.
  • Once vaccines have been delivered to your practice, they should be transferred to a dedicated vaccine fridge straight away.
  • Stock should be rotated so that vaccines with the shortest expiry dates are used first. This information should be logged on a vaccine management document.

The ordering, receiving and storing of vaccines should be the responsibility of someone suitably trained and of the necessary experience to ensure the process runs smoothly.

That said, all members of your healthcare practice should be educated in vaccine storage best practice.

Storing Vaccines in Medical Fridges

  • Vaccines must be stored in dedicated vaccine fridges – commercial and domestic fridges simply aren’t accurate enough to maintain the required temperature range.
  • Vaccines must not be stored with anything other than medical products – food and drink items must be stored in a separate fridge.
  • Medical fridges should never be more than 75% full to allow air to flow freely around the internal refrigerator compartment. There should be a 1cm gap between all vaccines.
  • Vaccine fridge temperature must be kept between +2⁰C to +8⁰C at all times.
  • A vaccine temperature log should be taken once or twice each working day. This should be logged in a dedicated document that can be easily referred back to.

Vaccine Temperature Logging

The key to correct temperature logging is the four Rs:

  • Read
  • Record
  • Reset
  • React

Vaccine temperature should be read at least once every working day. Current, maximum and minimum temperatures should be recorded and signed against.

The thermometer must be reset after the recording has been taken and if the temperature range has risen above or fallen below the Cold Chain requirement, immediate action must be taken.  

CoolMed Vaccine Fridges – Contact Us

If you’d like any more information on the vaccine fridges we offer, or how to correctly store vaccines within your doctor’s surgery, please call us on 0161 772 5666, or email us at One of our team will be happy to help!