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About Dairy Wellness

Dairy Vaccines 101: Storage and handling
Posted by Greg Edwards

To keep your herd healthy and your dairy profitable, it’s important to have a vaccination program that works. But a vaccine program is only as effective as your dairy’s storage and handling protocols. Are you working with your veterinarian and following these steps?

Proper vaccine storage
Vaccines should be refrigerated at a temperature between 35°F and 45°F, unless stated differently on the product label. Failing to store vaccines at temperatures according to the product label could result in vaccine ineffectiveness and may increase the rate of local reactions to vaccinations. Vaccines that have been exposed to temperatures outside of the recommended range (too warm or too cold) should not be used and should be properly disposed of.

Storage tips:

  • Keep a working minimum-maximum thermometer in your refrigerator to monitor internal temperature fluctuations.
  • Record the refrigerator temperature twice a day to monitor temperature variations that might indicate a malfunctioning refrigerator.
  • Store vaccines in the middle of the refrigerator. Do not store in the door (may be exposed to warmer temperatures frequently) or against the back of the refrigerator (may be exposed to very cold temperatures for long periods of time).
  • Stock and rotate vaccine supply from the back so the shortest expiration date is in the front.
  • Maintain a clean fridge at all times. Do not use disinfectants for cleaning; use hot water only.
  • Evenly space products.

Keep in mind that storing colostrum, food, test kits, etc. can affect the consistency of the refrigerator’s temperature. It’s recommended to have a fridge designated for vaccines only. It is also highly discouraged to use a refrigerator in the barn because it was not functioning properly in the house.

Proper vaccine handling 
Labels explain what the products are supposed to do, how to use them and which animals are approved for their use. Make sure you’re handling vaccines properly so your animals are successfully immunized.

Handling tips:

  • Place paper or packaging material between ice packs and vaccines when transporting in a cooler.
  • Only insert a new needle into a bottle.
  • Clean syringes with hot water only. Using soap or disinfectant is highly discouraged because they can inactivate modified-live virus vaccines.
  • Allow syringes to air-dry before reassembly.
  • Do not combine vaccines, and use only approved combinations from your veterinarian.
  • Finish open bottles before opening a new one.
  • Use the appropriate needle size for intramuscular (1.5 inch x 18 gauge) and subcutaneous (5/8 to 1 inch x 18 gauge) administration.

Always keep your veterinarian part of your team to ensure you’re storing, handling and using all products appropriately to keep your herd healthy and improve your dairy’s bottom line. 

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