Poultry farming

Vaccine transport, storage and handling

Author: Kaska Talpa, Zoetis Poultry Field Services Manager

Vaccination is one of the most important tools used in preventing diseases and in reducing the economic losses in poultry production. Proper transport, storage and handling of vaccines are essential to achieve maximal vaccine safety and efficacy.


Live vaccines are usually transported in an insulated cooler box or bag. It is a good practice to pre-chill the box or bag before the vaccine is placed inside. As the ice packs come out of the freezer they need to be wrapped in a cloth, paper or bubble wrap to prevent the vaccine from coming into direct contact with the frozen icepacks, protecting the vaccine from freezing.

On receipt of the vaccine on the farm, first check the temperature. This should be in range between +2° C and +8° C. This will ensure that the potency has been retained. Also record the type of vaccine, number of doses and expiry dates. Should the vaccines arrive warm or damaged, call the manufacturer or distributor to report the problem and follow their advice.


  • Fridge

The majority of live vaccines require storage between 2°C and 8°C. The vaccine should never be stored in refrigerator doors, as the temperature tends to be higher there, nor at the back of the fridge, where it can get too cold. It is a good practice to keep vaccines of the same type together to avoid the incorrect vaccine being used by mistake. Maximum/minimum digital thermometers allow fridge temperatures to be monitored closely and a number of auditing bodies dictate that temperatures are recorded daily.

  • Nitrogen Storage Tank

Live viral vaccines that are cell associated may need to be stored in liquid nitrogen. These vaccines must be carefully thawed and mixed prior to administration in any form. The nitrogen tanks must also be properly maintained to ensure the vaccines stay at a constant temperature. The tank should be checked for seal leaks and to make sure there’s enough liquid nitrogen to maintain necessary cold temperatures. The level of nitrogen in the tank can be monitored by using a dipstick, ruler or anything else that can confirm a sufficient amount of liquid nitrogen is present to keep the vaccine frozen.


The vaccine should be removed from the fridge no longer than 30 minutes prior to it being used. Only mix enough vaccine for immediate use. Vaccine mixing should be done on a clean surface, free of any residues from sanitizers or disinfectants and only clean, designated equipment for vaccine mixing should be used. It is important to protect the vaccine from: UV light, heat, chlorine and organic matter (including dust, litter or feed). The name of the vaccine, batch number, expiry date and date of the administration needs to be recorded in your farm medicines book. Only trained staff should be allowed to handle and mix the vaccines.

For further information please contact please contact Zoetis UK Limited, First Floor, Birchwood Building, Springfield Drive, Leatherhead KT22 7LP. www.zoetis.co.ukCustomer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: November 2020. MM-11541