COVID-19 Vaccine – Planning and organising a vaccination roll out

covid-19 vaccine bottlesAs the COVID-19 vaccine becomes increasingly available, numerous providers are preparing their facilities to implement a successful vaccination program while ensuring the health and safety of their healthcare personnel as well as the vaccine recipients.

Seton is here to help with planning and operationalising vaccination responses to COVID-19. In accordance with key guidance from the UK Government* our team of safety-trained professionals has developed a list of best practices for safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine storage, distribution, and disposal.

Infection prevention and control 

All those going for a vaccination and those delivering vaccinations should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Maintaining high levels of hand hygiene is critical to prevent the spread of the disease. Hands should be cleaned with soap and water or with alcohol-based sanitisers before vaccine preparation and in between patients.

COVID-19 Vaccine storage and handling

Vaccines may become less effective if they are stored in temperatures that are too hot or too cold. Inappropriate storage and transport of vaccines will result in wastage and unnecessary costs for the NHS. 

The ‘cold chain’ is a term used to describe the cold temperature conditions in which certain vaccines need to be stored. Maintaining the ‘cold chain’ ensures vaccines are stored and transported appropriately. Vaccine effectiveness can not be guaranteed unless the vaccine has been stored correctly. 

Ensure the ‘cold chain’ is maintained by having an effective monitoring and signage system in place. Each clinical setting where vaccines are stored, needs to have a named person and deputy responsible for this. 

Best practice for vaccine refrigerator (Source: Vaccination Green Book)

  • All vaccine fridges should have a unique identifier, such as a serial number or asset tracking tag
  • Vaccine refrigerators should be safe for use (e.g. undergone portable appliance testing (PAT) as per The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989))
  • The refrigerator should be the correct size to meet the vaccination storage needs
  • The refrigerator should be placed in a suitable position (ventilated and away from heat sources)
  • The refrigerator should be serviced at least once a year and the temperature gauge calibrated.
  • Steps have been taken to reduce the risk of accidental interruption of electricity supply (see below).

Storage power supply safety steps 

  • Plug in only one storage unit per electrical outlet to avoid creating a fire hazard or triggering a safety switch that turns the power off
  • Use a safety-lock plug or an outlet cover to prevent the storage unit from being unplugged
  • Affix “DO NOT UNPLUG” warning signs and labels at outlets and on storage units to alert staff to avoid unplugging units
  • Label fuses and circuit breakers to alert people not to turn off power to a storage unit.

Monitoring and management of stock

Those who are responsible for the receipt and care of vaccines should store the vaccines in a refrigerator (at the temperature specified by the manufacturer) and should practice good stock control and stock rotation to ensure those with the shortest shelf life are used first. Any damaged vial or syringe should be labelled as damaged and disposed of according to local or nation policies. 

Inventory Management

  • Vaccine delivery should only be scheduled on dates and during times staff will be present
  • Ensure all deliveries are free of physical damage and signs of tampering upon arrival
  • Use a stock record to account for and document each dose of vaccine 
  • Label shelves and containers to clearly identify where each type of vaccine and diluent is stored


If a spill occurs, any local policies should be followed in conjunction with the manufacturers’ Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) safety data sheets. Spills must be cleaned up quickly with gloves being worn at all times.  Ensure you dispose of spill kits appropriately in accordance to local guidelines.

Disposal of vaccines

Any vaccination equipment, such as vials and syringes should be disposed of safely by placing them in a puncture-resistant ‘sharps’ box. This is in accordance with the guidance provided in the technical memorandum 07-01 (Department of Health, 2006)

The ‘sharps’ container should have a sealed lid and be replaced once it is two-thirds full, or at the level indicated on the box by the manufacturer. It is important to keep the ‘sharps’ container away from any unauthorised individual and that once full the container is disposed of properly. 

*All information in this document has been sourced from the as of 21/12/2020 and is published for general informational purposes only.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

Post A Comment

Fields marked with * are mandatory.

I have read, understood and give consent to your Privacy Policy (click here to view).