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Cold Chain

Vaccine storage and transportation

The Cold chain is a process used to maintain vaccines within the required temperature range. All vaccines in New Zealand must be stored between +2˚C to +8˚C, at all times during storage and transport. All immunisation providers are required to follow to the Ministry of Health National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition) (National Standards).

See below for a quick overview of the vaccine cold chain in New Zealand (note the National Standards were updated in 2019, after this video was created).


Quick links to information on this page 

National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition)

Updated in September 2019, this document defines the national standards for vaccine storage and transportation for all immunisation providers in New Zealand and outlines the requirements for providers to achieve the standards. The 2nd edition of these standards supercede the original National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017.

Cold Chain Accreditation

Cold chain accreditation (CCA) is a Ministry of Health process for practices/providers to demonstrate it has appropriate cold chain management practices and processes in place to the requirements outlined in the National Standards. All Immunisation providers must be able to demonstrate they meet the requirement to hold CCA prior to offering an immunisation service and any point while offering an immunisation programme and effective management of vaccine stocks in the cold chain, as required by existing national standards.

The CCA provider self-assessment form and CCA immunisation provider review form are available on the Ministry of Health National Immunisation Programme cold chain management webpage www.health.govt.nz/coldchain.

Cold chain for community pharmacies

Assessment/audit of cold chain management in pharmacies is regulated as part of the pharmacy licensing framework administered by Medicines Control.

Community pharmacies who are offering or who plan to offer vaccination services are responsible for complying with all requirements within the National Standards (including appropriate equipment, monitoring, recording, and policies and procedures) outlined in the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition). 

Immunisation Coordinators continue to provide community pharmacies with:

  • Cold chain advice (e.g. when purchasing new cold chain equipment)
  • Assistance with cold chain breaches
  • Clinical assessments for pharmacists who have completed their vaccination training course
  • Three yearly spatial logging of pharmaceutical refrigerators.

 The Ministry of Health has produced fact sheets for pharmacists and for Immunisation Coordinators:

 FAQs on vaccine Cold Chain Compliance for community pharmacies 

 FAQs for immunisation coordinators on vaccine Cold Chain Compliance for community pharmacies

Resources, including information for offsite vaccination

 Ministry of Health cold chain web page

The Ministry of Health has a page dedicated to cold chain.

 Annual cold chain management record (updated February 2020)

The Annual Cold Chain Management Record is a tool for immunisation providers. The information recorded in the Record is based on the requirements in the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition). 

 Cold chain management policy template

The Ministry of Health created a Cold Chain Management Policy template to assist immunisation providers to develop their individualised policy, an essential requirement for Cold Chain Accreditation.

 Recommended contents of the provider cold chain folder template

This template can be used to ensure your cold chain folder contains the recommended contents and modified to show any additional 'practice specific' resources in your folder.

 Staff cold chain orientation guide/checklist

Use this template to help design your 'provider specific' cold chain orientation process for new clinical staff who offer or support immunisation services.

 Vaccine register template

Download a template for an easy to use Vaccine Register, updated October 2018.

 The essential cold chain

This fact sheet summarises the most important requirements for maintenance of the vaccine cold chain. 

 Initial steps in a cold chain breach

 This fact sheet outlines the initial actions immunisation providers should take when the vaccine refrigerator temperature goes outside of the recommended +2°C to +8°C temperature range.

  The essentials of offsite vaccine storage and monitoring

This fact sheet introduces the requirements for the storage and monitoring of vaccines at off-site clinics to ensure maintenance of the cold chain.

 Offsite immunisation programme – chilly bin log template

Download a template for recording chilly bin temperatures during an off-site clinic.

 COOL Project: Stakeholder summary report & chilly bin packing protocol for offsite immunisations

This document explains how vaccine can be managed in the cold chain when stored in chilly bins and provides information and results from tests of current and alternative cold chain equipment and processes used for mobile/offsite immunisations. The packing protocol details best practice guidelines arising from the products tested as part of the COOL Project. Providers using alternative packing methods and equipment can continue to do so provided that the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition) are adhered to.

Vaccine storage and transportation course (free)

If you are a cold chain lead for your provider or interested in knowing more about cold chain, you can complete the free, 1-hour, online Vaccine Storage and Transportation course. Follow this link: https://lmsnew.conectus.org.nz. If you have any queries please contact [email protected] or telephone the education administration team on 0800 882 873.

Last updated: Jan 2021