Widespread power outages – have you checked your vaccine specific fridge?

11 February 2020


Due to the intense storms over the weekend, many areas have been affected with widespread power outages.

Was your vaccine specific fridge affected by the power outage?

Check your vaccine fridge:

  • Check min/max thermometer – did temperatures go above 8°C?
  • Download data logger – how long were temperatures above 8°C?

 If your vaccine fridge went above 8°C: (with the exception of a brief rise in temperature up to 12°C for less than 15 minutes)

  • Isolate vaccines and label DO NOT USE.
  • Immediately contact Public Health Unit (PHU) on 1300 066 055.
  • DO NOT use the vaccines.
  • DO NOT discard the vaccines.
  • Await further instruction from the PHU.


How to protect your vaccines from power outages

Power outages are a common occurrence due to various reasons such as storms, extreme heat and strain on the electricity system. This can result in unnecessary interruption to your business as well as vaccine wastage and delay the supply of vaccines to your patients.

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails, or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. During a power outage, a UPS can sense the voltage is insufficient and will automatically go to battery power until normal power returns. The size and design of a UPS determines how long it will supply power. Please see our information sheet Alternative vaccine storage options in a power failure for more information and where to purchase. See also Prepare your practice for power outages over summer.


Contacting the Public Health Unit (PHU) 

Public Health Unit: 1300 066 055 
Fill out cold chain breach reporting form and submit to PHU along with data logger report.

Further instructions on SESLHD website under ‘Cold chain maintenance and cold chain breaches’.


NSW Health online training module

The NSW Health online training module Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management is compulsory and must be completed by at least one staff member, however all staff involved in cold chain management should complete this short online course. A certificate of completion is awarded at the end of the module and should be saved for record keeping. NSW Health are conducting random audits to check all general practices are complying with The National Vaccine Storage Guidelines 'Strive for 5' third edition.


Contacting the PHN (CESPHN)

If you need any assistance, or if you would like advice or resources on cold chain management, please contact the Immunisation Team at Central and Eastern Sydney PHN on 1300 986 991, option 4, or email us at immunisation@cesphn.com.au.