Cold Chain Protocol - Vaccines and Biologics

1.  Introduction and the Importance of Cold Chain

This protocol has been developed in order to assist Manitoba immunization providers with the storage and handling of vaccines and biologics. It is based on the National Vaccine Storage and Handling Guideline for Immunization Providers 2007 (PHAC), and is designed to increase immunization provider awareness, understanding and compliance of appropriate storage and handling requirements. Procedures have been established in order to protect the potency and effectiveness of vaccines and biologics.

The Appendices, Resources and Worksheets enclosed at the end of the Protocol are to provide assistance to immunization providers to operationalize the cold chain monitoring of vaccines and biologics.


1.1  What is Cold Chain?

“Cold Chain” refers to the process used to maintain optimal conditions during the transport, storage, and handling of vaccines and biologics, starting at the manufacturer and ending with the administration to the patient or client.
There are three basic elements needed to ensure that vaccines and biologics are handled properly:

  1. Well trained staff
  2. The right equipment
  3. Standard operating procedures or guidelines

Storage issues can occur as a result of malfunctioning equipment or human error.
Vaccines and biologics are sensitive. Their potency and effectiveness may be negatively impacted if they are exposed to:

  • freezing temperatures
  • heat
  • direct sunlight or fluorescent light
Products that have been improperly stored and/or handled can permanently lose their potency.

^ back to top


Communicable Disease Control (CDC)
Public Health
Manitoba Health

4th Floor - 300 Carlton St.
Winnipeg MB  R3B 3M9  CANADA

Health Links – Info Santé
204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257

Ask Health