COVID-19 vaccines and required storage temperatures

COVID-19 vaccines and required storage temperatures

Updated 16 February 2021

Before and since COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, logistical issues have been raised. For the NHS, important questions have come to the surface, amongst which what temperature the vaccine needs to be stored at and how to best monitor the vaccine stays stored at this temperature.

COVID-19 Vaccine Freezer and Fridge Temperature

Covid-19 Vaccine bottle

Each coronavirus vaccine has their own specific storage requirements. BioNTech-Pfizer, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Moderna have been approved for use in the UK. Pfizer announced on 9 November that preliminary results showed a 90% effectiveness rate with a protection rate of 94% for 65+ year olds. Moderna revealed preliminary results soon after stating an effectiveness of 95%. The Oxford vaccine revealed it had up to 90% efficacy. In a recent study the vaccine proved to have a 10% effectiveness against the South African variant. 

To keep the vaccines safe to administer, certain storage requirements need to be met. These requirements differ between the vaccines. For the current vaccines that have been approved for use across the UK, the required storage temperatures as published on is as follows:

  • the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 can be kept at a normal fridge temperature of 2°C to 8°C.
  • the BioNTech-Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine (BNT162b2) needs a storage between -80°C and -60°C and can last in a fridge of 2°C to 8°C for five days.
  • the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273) is to be stored between -25°C and -15°C, and in a standard fridge for up to one month.

Several of the new vaccines that are in development, waiting to be approved in the UK:

  • the Novavax vaccine storage temperature is, like the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine a normal fridge temperature of 2°C to 8°C. It's expected that this vaccine will be available in the second half of this year. 
  • the Sputnik V vaccine must be stored at a minimum of -18°C. Sputnik V recorded an effectiveness of 92%.
  • in January 2021 it was announced that the single-dose Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine was 66% per cent effective. This vaccine could be kept in a normal refrigerator with temperatures between 2°C to 8°C.
  • the French Valneva vaccine is expected to reveal further data this April following clinical trials. 
  • GlaxoSmithCline in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur is producing an mRNA COVID vaccine, most likely requiring low temperatures. This vaccine is not expected to be ready during 2021. 

Use our cheat sheet for monitoring vaccine fridge/freezer temperature:

COVID-19 vaccine storage temperature cheat sheet

Preparing vaccine fridges and freezers across the NHS

Vaccine freezer

As the NHS is administering vaccines, temperature control and monitoring of the vaccine fridges and freezers becomes essential.

Via Temp Tracker, we ourselves are rolling out our temperature monitoring solution to healthcare organisations. If you wish to have the ability to monitor the temperature of your vaccine storage and receive alerts on any deviations, please visit our dedicated Temp Tracker page or get in touch to receive a live demo so you can get a full understanding of how the solution can help you in reducing any vaccine waste.

Why is there a difference in storage temperature?

The reason for the difference in temperature storage relates to the technology through which the vaccines are created. The Oxford vaccine uses an engineered viral vector, which trains the body to neutralise infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. The use of this technology means it should not require a temperature below freezing, similar to our annual flu jabs.

The Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines on the other hand use what is called RNA technology, which provokes an immune response. This technology requires a much lower temperature.