Cold chain breaches and excursions
Definition of a cold chain breach
A breach occurs when the vaccines have been stored outside the required temperature range. Cold chain breaches can occur even in well-designed and well-managed systems. However, if there are effective monitoring processes in place, problems will be detected and managed before a cold chain excursion and failure occur, i.e. administration of the damaged vaccine.
Cold chain excursion
• Vaccines have been stored or transported in temperatures outside the recommended range (+2⁰C to +8⁰C)
• Vaccines ARE compromised and must be returned for destruction
Cold chain failure
• Compromised vaccines from a cold chain excursion are administered to clients
• Clients must be revaccinated
Advice for managing cold chain breaches
• Quarantine the vaccines
• Maintain the vaccines within the cold chain and label them ‘Not for use’ while advice is obtained and inform colleagues.
• Check the digital thermometer, other monitors if available, and download the data logger.
• Contact your Immunisation/Cold Chain Coordinator (IC) for advice or COVID Regional Immunisation Advisor (CRIA). Do not dispose of any vaccines until advised to do so by your Immunisation/Cold Chain Coordinator or CRIA. Ensure all the advice received and actions taken are documented.
• Your IC/CRIA is required to inform the Ministry of Health Immunisation Team if any patients require recall or re-immunisation.
• Providers are required to ensure an appropriate emergency plan and equipment are always available for use, e.g. chilly bin, packing/insulation materials, ice packs, refrigerator at an alternate location, and monitoring equipment.
• To document cold chain breaches and excursions, use the IMAC COVID-19 Cold Chain Reporting Form