$8,079 — That’s the total private sector cost for 10 doses of each of the 13 vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for routine use in children from birth through 17 years of age.*

Since most vaccines are available in 10-dose packages, this means that even small medical practices are storing approximately $8,000 of vaccine at any one time. Of course, the total value of vaccines available in a practice is usually much greater than that, and very large practices may be storing more than 10 times that value in inventory. How can you ensure that your sizeable vaccine investment is appropriately protected from potential loss (and subsequent replacement costs) and that your patients receive viable vaccines?

To assist with your efforts to properly store and protect your vaccine supply, CDC recently released a wide range of new tools, including:

  • Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit —This comprehensive Toolkit (updated in May 2014) includes detailed information on storage and handling recommendations and best practice strategies, as well as considerations for selecting and maintaining storage units (i.e., refrigerators and freezers) and temperature monitoring equipment, receiving or transporting vaccine, preparing vaccines for administration, and more. The updated Toolkit incorporates a new, user-friendly graphics layout, with easy-to-spot icons to alert the reader to requirements, recommendations, best practices, scenarios that require immediate action, and hyperlinked information.
  • Keys to Storing and Handling Your Vaccine Supply — This new 45-minute “Web-on-demand” video offers the perfect training tool for your staff. The video provides demonstrations of best practices for proper storage and handling of vaccines, reinforcing techniques and policies outlined in the Toolkit. It also includes interactive questions to help reinforce important vaccine management concepts. The video is a great companion piece to the newly updated Toolkit, and continuing education credit is available.
  • Storage and Handling Fact Sheets — These colorful fact sheets use simple, easy-to-understand illustrations to highlight the best practices for temperature monitoring and proper storage of refrigerated and frozen vaccines, including:
  • You Call the Shots: Vaccine Storage and Handling Module (scroll to bottom of page and hit “continue”) — This interactive, Web-based module provides learning opportunities, self-test practice questions, reference and resource materials, and an extensive glossary.
  • Examples of Vaccine Labels — It can be easy to confuse vaccines within storage units. Labeling the area where vaccines are stored (either on the front of a storage bin or directly on the shelf) can help staff quickly locate and choose the correct vaccine — and perhaps prevent a vaccine administration error.

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) also maintains a wide variety of helpful tools in its Clinic Resources: Storage & Handling Web section, such as temperature logs for refrigerators and freezers and the following two recently updated pieces:

  • Don’t Be Guilty of These Errors in Vaccine Storage and Handling — This newly updated handout highlights frequently reported errors in vaccine storage and handling. Be sure your clinic or practice is not making any of these preventable errors!
  • Vaccine Handling Tips — Suitable for posting on vaccine storage units, this quick reference tool illustrates which vaccines should be stored in the refrigerator versus those that should be stored in the freezer. It also provides quick tips for managing your vaccine supply.

All of these tools provide great information to assist your medical practice with appropriate vaccine storage and handling. Take a minute to have your staff review the tools, and institute recommended policies and systems in your healthcare setting. You will be rewarded with dollars saved from reduced vaccine wastage. But more importantly, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your efforts have helped ensure that your patients receive effective protection against vaccine preventable diseases — and nothing is more valuable than that!

*Private sector cost1 (rounded to nearest dollar) for 10 doses each of DTaP ($235), influenza ($148), IPV ($274), Hepatitis A ($296), Hepatitis B ($223), Hib ($245), HPV ($1,351), meningococcal conjugate ($1,152), MMR ($561), pneumococcal conjugate ($1,351), rotavirus ($909), Tdap ($393), and varicella ($941) vaccines. (Note: When more than one brand of a vaccine type was available, the average cost was used. Due to the wide variety of formulations/costs, combination vaccines were not included in this assessment.)

1Cost per CDC Pediatric/VFC Vaccine Price List (accessed July 7, 2014)

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.