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North Carolina Immunization Branch

North Carolina Immunization Program (NCIP) Requirements

Storage and Handling

***Please call the NCIP at 877-873-6247 to report any out of range temperatures***

Impact of Power Outages on Vaccine Storage

In areas where vaccine supplies are affected by temporary power outages, this guidance may be helpful:

  • Take immediate action to correct improper vaccine storage conditions, including inappropriate exposure to light and inappropriate exposure to storage temperatures outside the recommended ranges. Isolate the affected vaccine, mark them "DO NOT USE", and store under appropriate conditions in a properly functioning vaccine storage unit. Do not allow the vaccine to remain in a nonfunctioning unit. Document actions taken on the temperature log. Call the NCIP at 877-873-6247 to report any out of range temperatures.
  • Most refrigerated vaccines are relatively stable at room temperature for limited periods of time. The vaccines of most concern are MMR and Varivax, which are sensitive to elevated temperatures.
  • Monitor temperatures; don't discard; don't administer affected vaccines until you have discussed with North Carolina Immunization Program.

If the power outage is on-going:

  1. Continue to monitor temperatures if possible. Do not open units to check temperatures during the power outage. Instead, record the temperature as soon as possible after the power is restored, and the duration of the outage. This will provide data on the maximum temperature and maximum duration of exposures to elevated temperatures.
  2. If alternative storage with reliable power sources are available (i.e., hospital with generator power), transfer to that facility can be considered. If transporting vaccine, measure the temperature of the refrigerator(s) and freezer(s) when the vaccines are removed. If possible, transport the vaccine following proper cold chain procedures for storage and handling or try to the record the temperature the vaccine is exposed to during transport.

When power has been restored:

  1. Record the temperature in the unit as soon as possible after power has been restored. Continue to monitor the temperatures until they reach the normal 2 to 8 degrees Celsius range in the refrigerator, or -15 degrees C or less in the freezer. Be sure to record the duration of increased temperature exposure and the maximum temperature observed.
  2. If you are concerned about the exposure or efficacy of any of your vaccine stock, do not administer the vaccine until you have consulted the Immunization Program at 877-873-6247.
  3. Keep exposed vaccine separated from any new product you receive and continue to store at the proper temperature.
  4. Do not discard any potentially exposed vaccine. We will be working with the vaccine manufacturers to determine which vaccines may be viable.

Use these resources to properly store and handle state-supplied vaccine

Note: There has been an adjustment in CDC’s guidance on the Fahrenheit temperature range for storing refrigerated vaccines to align with guidance from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a scientific organization that sets federally recognized quality standards for food and drugs.  By adjusting the  Fahrenheit temperature range of 36°F–46°F (previously 35°F–46°F), CDC is ensuring that its Fahrenheit temperature range does not conflict with the package inserts of any routinely recommended vaccines . The Celsius temperature range (2°C–8°C) remains unchanged, as stated in all manufacturer package inserts for routinely recommended vaccines.  The North Carolina Immunization Program has updated all storage forms (including temperature logs) to reflect this change.  Effective immediately, please begin to use this new guidance for storing refrigerated vaccines. Vaccines previously stored at 35°F–46°F does not need to be discarded and CDC does not recommend revaccinating patients who may have received vaccine stored at 35°F. 

Vaccine Management Plans and Best Practices

Temperature Monitoring Tools



Updated: February 01, 2023