ASHP Releases New COVID-19 Vaccine Guide


The online guide places a special emphasis on security, storage, and handling.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has released new guidance on the security, storage, and handling of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 1.89 million deaths and there have been over 86.7 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.2 The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization to both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. Both vaccines require special storage elements, and heightened security is needed to ensure medication integrity, access, and accuracy.1

The ASHP resource guide goes over vaccine security and storage, vaccine procurement, pharmacy security and storage, transport, patient care area security, management of vaccine returns, and community pharmacy consideration.1

“During the course of this public health emergency, there is a compelling need to closely monitor scarce and essential life-saving resources such as the COVID-19 vaccines. As such, ensuring the proper receipt, storage, handling, and distribution processes of the vaccines is of utmost importance. As with any high-alert and high- value medication, there should be heightened security precautions to ensure the medication integrity, accuracy, and availability is dependable and trusted by patients and providers. There is an extreme societal need in ensuring that all possible doses of vaccines manufactured are utilized to vaccinate as many patients as possible and the integrity and security of the vaccines are critical components of this effort,” the guide states.1

Accessible on the organization's website, the guide places a special emphasis on vaccine security and storage. According to ASHP, the chain of custody, and individual accountability must always be maintained and verifiable. The vaccines should be stored in a secure location and only authorized individuals should have access to the vials. Additionally, steps should be taken to ensure that vaccines can still be recovered if the key is lost when using a traditional lock and key security system. Refrigeration systems should also be constantly monitored.1

ASHP also suggests that special considerations should be taken in the community pharmacy setting. Camera surveillance and additional security measures are necessary in order to deter theft. Additionally, badge reader or biometric access should be required for any and all access to COVID-19 Vaccine storage.1


  • COVID-19 Vaccine Security, Storage, and Handling Resource Guide. ASHP. Published January 7, 2021. Accessed January 8, 2021.
  • WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. The World Health Organization. Accessed October 13, 2020.

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