Storage and Handling of Influenza Vaccine

Vaccines must be stored and handled properly to ensure viability. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your influenza vaccine is viable when it is administered.


  • Store influenza vaccine in the refrigerator at 35° to 46°F (2 to 8°C). Never expose influenza vaccine to freezing temperatures.
  • Place the vaccine in the center of the refrigerator, away from the freezer compartment, the back wall, and the bottom of the refrigerator where the temperature is usually colder. The vaccine should be far enough away from the freezer compartment so there is no risk of it freezing.
  • Never store vaccines in the door of the refrigerator or the door of the freezer. This would expose the vaccine to wide temperature variations.
  • Equip the refrigerator with its own certified and calibrated thermometer. Check and log the temperature in the refrigerator at least once each day and adjust the control slightly if the thermometer indicates that the temperature is close to either of the two extremes (35° and 46°F).
  • Place filled plastic water jugs in the refrigerator to help maintain temperature stability. This helps keep temperatures uniform and provides additional cold mass, both of which are useful, particularly if there is a power outage.
  • Safeguard the electrical supply to the refrigerator. Make sure the refrigerator outlet has a safety lock plug. Label the refrigerator, electrical outlets, fuses, and circuit breakers on the power circuit with information that clearly identifies the perishable nature of the vaccine and the immediate steps to be taken in case of interruption of power.


  • Vaccine may be carefully transported in insulated containers with cold/ice packs on the bottom and top of the container. Four layers of heavy wrapping paper must be used between the cold/ice packs and the boxes/vials of vaccine. Vaccine CANNOT be touching the ice during shipping.
  • A thermometer should be included in the container and checked when the insulated container is opened upon arrival.

Mishaps in Vaccine Storage or Handling

  • Do not assume the vaccine cannot be salvaged.
  • Record the temperature inside the refrigerator at the time the problem is discovered. Mark the affected vaccine vials or packages
  • Transfer the vaccine to a working refrigerator as quickly as possible.
  • Record the length of time the vaccine may have been exposed to non-optimal temperatures.
  • Contact the vaccine manufacturer listed on the vaccine vial for further instructions and to determine if the vaccine can still be used.

South Dakota Department of Health

605-773-3737 or 1-800-738-2301