Vaccines and Preventable Diseases:
Varicella Vaccine Storage, Handling, and Transportation
Information for Health Care Providers
Single-antigen varicella vaccine (Varivax®) and combination measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine (ProQuad®) have the same requirements for storage and handling. But, they have different transport requirements.
Varivax and ProQuad should be kept
- frozen at an average temperature of 5°F (-15°C) or colder
- away from light at all times
Keep diluent in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- Can be transported
- at temperatures 36°F-46°F (2°C-8°C) or colder
- on dry ice or with regular ice or ice packs if the vaccine will be used within 72 hours
- If stored at refrigerator temperatures (36°F-46°F [2°C-8°C]), the vaccine must be used within 72 hours or else it must be discarded
- If stored at refrigerator temperatures (36°F-46°F [2°C-8°C]) for any amount of time, the vaccine cannot be refrozen for future use
- Must be transported at temperature 5°F (-15°C) or colder and kept at this temperature the whole time
- Must be transported on dry ice
Consult with Merck before giving a vaccine that was
- inadvertently placed in the refrigerator instead of the freezer, or
- thawed for any reason, including power failures
The expiration date of such mishandled vaccines will be affected.
- Clearly mark the mishandled vaccine and immediately put it in the freezer separate from vaccines that have been properly handled
- Try to estimate the highest temperature to which the vaccine was exposed and the length of time the vaccine was at that temperature.
- Call the Merck Vaccine Customer Service at 1-800-MERCK90
Keep extra ice or cold packs in the freezer to help maintain vaccines at cold temperatures during power failures.
Have an emergency vaccine storage plan in place in case of power failures or natural disasters.
- Package inserts for Varivax and ProQuad
- Prevention of Varicella—Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
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Content last reviewed on April 5, 2012
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases