Handling Vaccines

Page last updated: 20 April 2015

The proper preparation, storage and handling of vaccines is important to continuing to protect the health of the community.

Preparation

Vaccines that are transported, stored, prepared and administered safely will minimise harm to individuals, health care professionals and the community.

It is important to ensure vaccines are prepared according to manufacturers’ instructions. Providers should be vigilant in correctly preparing vaccines that require reconstitution prior to administration.

Storage

Vaccines are delicate biological substances that can become less effective or be destroyed if they are stored incorrectly. Health professionals should be familiar with the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5 - 2nd edition publication compiled by the Australian Government Department of Health.

The publication has been extensively reviewed to reflect the latest advances in cold chain management and outlines the basic principles for safe vaccine storage. It is a concise, practical, user-friendly guide to vaccine storage for Australian vaccination service providers.

The publication’s title refers to Strive for 5 degrees Celsius (°C) – that is, the point midway between +2°C and +8°C which is the recommended temperature range for vaccine storage.

Note: Due to the Australian context and ongoing evolution in technology, knowledge and vaccines, there are differences between the National vaccine storage guidelines: Strive for 5, the World Health Organization’s documents and the Australian Immunisation Handbook (10th edition 2013).

Handling

All immunisation service providers should be familiar with the handling and disposal of sharps according to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian guidelines for the prevention and control of infection in healthcare.

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