Cold chain

The process to keep vaccines within the required temperature range all all times of storage and transport

Cold chain

The Cold chain is a process that keeps vaccines within the required temperature range at all times of storage and transport. This may include ultra-cold or freezer storage, alongside the familiar +2˚C to +8˚C range. 

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).

An addendum was added in 2021 to address cold chain standards for management of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Addendum June 2021.

Cold Chain Accreditation

Cold chain accreditation (CCA) is a Ministry of Health process for immunisation providers to demonstrate they have appropriate cold chain management systems and processes in place to meet the National Standards. 

All immunisation providers must be able to demonstrate they meet the requirements of CCA prior to offering an immunisation service and at any point while delivering an immunisation programme. 

The CCA provider self-assessment form and CCA immunisation provider review form are available on the Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health National Immunisation Programme cold chain management webpage

Recording requirements

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 Standards.

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 offering or planning to offer vaccination services need to comply with all requirements within the National Standards and the Addendum (including appropriate equipment, monitoring, recording, and policies and procedures). 

Immunisation Coordinators 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.

Te Whatu Ora districts may have specific requirements and support for pharmacy immunisation providers.

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.

Last updated:
Oct 2022