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Annual Vaccine Fridge Inspection

Why Do You Need to Have Your Vaccine Fridge Inspected?

This is a provincial requirement which permits you to receive publically funded vaccines to administer to your patients, residents and clients.

Public Health Units are required to inspect all locations where publically funded vaccines are stored, at least once a year. An additional inspection may be required if there is a cold chain incident, also called an Adverse Storage Condition.

During the vaccine fridge inspection, it is important to review vaccine storage and handling practices with staff. Everyone needs to understand how to maintain an environment in the fridge that keeps vaccines effective and to prevent vaccine wastage.

What to Expect

Please read closely as we have made significant changes for the 2024 inspection process.

  1. You will receive an email from one of our staff with instructions and links to resources.
  2. Before the Health Unit staff come to do a site visit, you will have one of your own staff complete the Vaccine Fridge inspection report – starting at section 2
    • The section re: Vaccine Refrigerators Temperature and Readings will be done by the Health Unit staff during your site visit.
  3. Once you have completed the inspection report, you will email the report back to the Health Unit staff person.
  4. Health Unit staff will book your site visit once the completed inspection report is received.
  5. During the site visit, Health Unit staff will review the completed report and provide any teaching or guidance needed to meet the Vaccine Storage and Handling Requirements.

How to Complete the Inspection Report

  • Download the Vaccine Cold Chain Maintenance Inspection Report.
    • You may be prompted to update your free Adobe Acrobat reader so that you can view the form.
  • Complete sections 2–7 in the inspection report and capture the results on the form.
    • Do not worry about the rating at the end of each section. Health Unit staff will do this part on the visit.
    • Put aside expired vaccine and return to the Health Unit during your next vaccine order pick up. Fill out the Vaccine Return Form to send with the expired vaccine. This includes expired flu vaccine.

Site Visit Preparation

  • Place a water sample in the fridge beside the thermometer probe at least 24 hours prior to visit by Health Unit staff. This sample will be used to verify your thermometer’s accuracy
  • Please let Health Unit staff know if you need any replacement supplies for vaccine order pick up (water blankets, ice packs, thermometer, cooler)

Be Prepared for Power Outages

We strongly encourage your facility to sign up for Hydro One notifications about power outages.

Review your contingency plan regularly – it includes instructions on what to do to protect the vaccine from significant temperature changes.

What is a Contingency Plan? 

It is what you will need to do if your vaccine fridge is unable to maintain a safe temperature range between 2 and 8 degrees.

Part of your plan is knowing where your cold chain materials are located (e.g. cooler, ice packs, water blankets, thermometer) and who will intervene to protect the vaccine.

During Power Outages

  1. If the power outage is short-term:
    • Do not open vaccine fridge door until the power is restored. Most refrigerated vaccines are relatively stable at room temperature for limited periods of time
    • Monitor and document maximum-minimum and current temperature of your vaccine fridge at least twice daily if possible. Do not open fridge door to check temperatures
    • Document the length of time the power has been off and the minimum and maximum temperature observed within the fridge
  2. Do NOT keep vaccines in a non-functioning unit for an extended period of time.
  3. For anticipating prolonged power outage, consider vaccine transport procedures to an alternate facility. Follow proper cold chain procedures for storage and handling. Include list of vaccine inventory by name, lot number and amount of doses

When Power Has Been Restored

  • Record the temperature of the fridge after power has been restored, when possible
  • Continue to monitor fridge temperatures until they are within 2.0°C to 8.0°C range then twice daily
  • All facilities who experienced prolonged power outage must report to Public Health to have their vaccines assessed.
  • Do not discard or administer the vaccine until you have consulted with Public Health. We will be working with the vaccine manufacturers to determine which vaccines may be viable. Bag exposed vaccines and keep separate from new products. Continue to monitor and log temperature range twice daily


Vaccine Storage and Handling Guidelines

How to Contact Health Unit Staff