COVID-19 vaccine allocations, storage and handling

Learn about your vaccine allocation, how to manage it, and what to do with expired or excess vaccines.

Vaccine allocation

We provide primary care vaccination sites with a fortnightly vaccine allocation.

Transferring doses

Doses can be transferred between participating COVID-19 vaccination program sites to meet demand or manage excess stock.

Both the receiving site and the transferring site must record the transfer details in their vaccine stock management report by 9 pm every Friday.

Both sites must be enabled for that vaccine type (including signing the relevant site readiness declaration) and agree to the transport arrangements, including:

  • sending the appropriate amount of consumables (syringes, needles and sharps collectors)
  • maintaining cold-chain storage.

Storing and handling vaccines

See the Australian Immunisation Handbook for guidance on storing and handling vaccines.

Vaccine providers must refer to the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines (Strive for 5) for cold-chain management of COVID-19 vaccines.

Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine – leakage of vial diluent

If there is leakage of the diluent while reconstituting the Pfizer vaccine, you can still use the vaccine if most of the diluent has been injected into the vial.

If you are unsure how much diluent has been injected into the vial, you can still use the vaccine if there is enough diluent for 4 doses.

Ensure that there has been no breach of infection control.

Vaccinating patients offsite

You are encouraged to vaccinate all patients in the practice itself to ensure cold-chain process and shelf life are maintained.

For offsite vaccinations, there are 2 options:

  1. Transport the vial and draw up the dose before administering.
  2. Transport pre-drawn doses that can be appropriately stored and administered within 1 hour. 

Appropriate storage includes maintaining cold chain. If you cannot ensure these conditions, transport the vial and draw up the doses at the administration site.

You don't need to 'warm up' vaccines by letting them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before administration. This includes Spikevax (Moderna). To minimise possible discomfort, check the syringe is not cold to the touch before administering.

You must store each vial or dose at the recommended temperature without exceeding the total maximum storage period specified in the product information.

See the Australian Immunisation Handbook for guidance on transporting vaccines.

Stock control measures

Plan bookings in advance and make appointments available in order to manage the amount of stock you have on hand.

Do not:

  • stockpile vaccines
  • reserve doses for patients. 

Instead, manage your bookings to use up all stock on hand where possible.

Expired or excess vaccines

Doses due to expire before the next scheduled vaccination are considered excess.

Minimise excess doses by matching the number of doses able to be extracted in a vial to your bookings.

To reduce wastage and maximise doses, we encourage sites to:

  • maintain a reserve or waiting list of eligible patients who have either not made a booking, or who have a later booking, but can come in at short notice
  • use excess doses for other patients or staff are available and interested when excess doses are identified.
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