Vaccine Storage, Handling and Administration
Most vaccines used in the shelter contain living organisms, so care must be taken when storing, handling, and administering them to ensure these organisms remain viable and are able to induce a protective immune response in our animals.
Webinars on Vaccination Protocols
Get a complete overview of shelter vaccination protocols and hear a two-part series on proper shelter intake.
Read how the right vaccination protocols can be among the most important and lifesaving tools available to shelters.
- Unpack new vaccines within one hour of delivery.
- If ice packs in shipping container have melted, contact the distributor immediately and do not use vaccines.
- Store vaccines in a refrigerator maintained at 35-45°F. Vaccines should not be removed from the refrigerator until just prior to use.
- Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and, at a minimum, record temperatures weekly to ensure that the refrigerator stays cold enough to protect the vaccines at all times.
- When transporting vaccines, place them in a cooler with ice packs.
- Discard expired vaccine products in appropriate medical waste containers.
- Reconstitute two-part vaccines with the provided diluent. Do not interchange diluents or dilute vaccine with other compounds such as fluids or sterile water.
- Never mix multiple vaccine products in the same syringe.
- Never split the dose of vaccine for small animals.
- Administer vaccines within 60 minutes of reconstitution. Do not reconstitute vaccines in the morning for administration throughout the day.
- Protect reconstituted vaccines from temperature extremes until administration.
- Dispose of used vaccine vials and syringes in appropriate medical waste containers.
- Always administer vaccines according to the route specified on the product label.
- Intranasal vaccines containing Bordetella must not be injected or given orally.
- Injectable DA2PP and FVRCP vaccines should be administered subcutaneously.
Have questions that weren’t addressed here? Check out the most frequently asked questions of the ASPCA’s shelter medicine veterinarians.
- When possible, administer injectable vaccines in the subcutaneous space below the elbow and below the knee. Note: When working with fearful or difficult to handle animals, ensuring the vaccination is administered is more important than administering in a precise location.
- Standard locations for vaccine administration are:
- DA2PP and FVRCP – Right front leg
- Rabies – Right hind leg
- Combination products including Rabies – Right hind leg
- If an animal does not receive an entire dose of vaccine (i.e., the animal jumps, the needle was inserted completely through the skin), re-administer a full dose of vaccine.
- Spilled or mis-injected vaccine product should be thoroughly cleaned to avoid accidental ingestion.
We have lots more on this subject:
Featured Tools & TipsSee All
Kitten Care Cheat Sheets for Foster Families and Adopters
These 8 downloads will help foster families and adopters with feeding, housing, and bathing kittens.
Foster Kitten Supply Wish Lists and Checklists
Use a sample wish list and checklist to gather needed supplies for foster kittens.
Shareable Graphics to Keep Pets Safe in Cold Weather
Share these helpful infographics with your community to keep pets safe in cold winter weather.
Latest NewsSee All
Maddie’s Fund Awards Dr. Lila Miller the 2021 Avanzino Leadership Award
Discover how Dr. Lila Miller championed the field of shelter medicine and received a leadership award from a prominent animal welfare organization.