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Power Shut-offs

Vaccine Management During Public Safety Power Shutoffs

A Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is a practice used by utility companies to preemptively shut off power in high fire risk areas during potentially dangerous weather conditions. Public Safety Power Shutoffs can last several hours to many days. Their impact may extend across city and county lines.

Take steps to prevent exposing your vaccines to out-of-range temperatures. Exposing vaccines to out-of-range temperatures, whether in their storage units or during transport, can result in reduced potency and risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Focus on the “Respond” and “Restore” phases below if your clinic/office is located in an affected area.


  • Identify an Alternate Vaccine Storage Location.  Your Vaccine Management Plan must include an alternate location to store your vaccines during an emergency. The alternate location must have storage units and temperature monitoring devices that meet VFC Program Requirements. Consider places with a back-up generator, hospitals, retail pharmacies, large healthcare providers with generator power.


  • Use VFC-Compliant Vaccine Storage Units
    Ensure your storage units ensure meet VFC Program Requirements. Add enough thermal ballast in your vaccine storage units by adding water bottles to your refrigerator and ice packs to your freezer to maintain temperatures during loss of power. Refer to the Refrigerator Setup and Freezer Setup job-aids for more information.
  • Be Familiar with your DDLs
    Know how to use your clinic’s Digital Data Loggers. If your DDLs run on batteries, for example, make sure you have charged batteries to ensure continued recording during a loss of electricity. Also consider having a supply of back-up batteries and a back-up power source. 
  • Consider a Back-up Power Source
    Consider having a back-up source of power, such as a commercial back-up battery system for vaccine storage units. Prior to purchasing, consider your clinic’s power and installation needs. If your clinic has a back-up generator, make sure it is ready to safely operate. Check-out safety operating tips provided by your utility company. 
  • Be Ready to Transfer Vaccines
    Make sure you have the supplies and materials you will need (hard-sided cooler, cold packs or frozen water bottles, insulating cushioning material, data logger) if you determine you need to transfer your vaccines. VFC’s Vaccine Management Plan template has a useful checklist to help you prepare for planned or unexpected situations.
  • Consider Other Refrigerated Items
    Be mindful of biologics and medications which require refrigeration. Have a plan in case your clinic’s power is off for an extended time.


Not all emergencies require you to transport vaccines to an alternate location. Follow the appropriate action based on your emergency situation. If vaccine transport is indicated, feasible, and safe, follow the Transporting Refrigerated Vaccine and Transporting Frozen Vaccine job-aids for detailed information and document the vaccine and temperature information on the Refrigerated and Frozen Vaccine Transport Logs. Utilize your back-up data logger(s) to monitor temperatures during transport. Never risk your own safety or your staff’s safety to transport vaccines during an emergency.

  • Appliance failure:
    Place vaccines in any VFC-approved backup storage unit with a VFC-compliant data logger, or transport vaccines to the designated alternate storage facility.
  • Power outages after hours:
    Report any excursion to the Storage and Handling Online Triage System (SHOTS) the next morning and take appropriate action.
  • Power outages expected to be fewer than 4 hours*:
    Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. Monitor storage unit temperature and report any excursions once power has been restored.
  • Power outages expected to be longer than 4 hours* or beyond the current business day:
    Transport vaccines to the designated alternate storage facility.
  • If transport or relocation is not feasible (e.g., alternate location is not available or travel conditions are unsafe), keep vaccine storage units closed and notify the VFC Call Center as soon as possible.

* Note: Practices using purpose-built (pharmacy-, biologic-, and laboratory-grade) and commercial-grade storage units may need to transport vaccines to an alternate location sooner than 2 hours as temperatures in these units tend to increase faster during power failures.


  • Once power is restored and your vaccine storage unit temperatures are within range, transport the vaccines back to your clinic following the same guidelines for refrigerated and frozen vaccine transport.
  • Review the vaccine storage unit temperature of the alternate location and temperatures during transport by downloading the data logger reports.
  • If vaccines remained at the clinic and were not transported to an alternate site, download and review the data logger reports.
  • If the vaccines were exposed to any out-of-range temperatures during storage or transport, report the incident to the Storage and Handling Online Triage System (SHOTS) through your MyVFCvaccines account and follow instructions from SHOTS.
Non-VFC Providers, please contact the vaccine manufacturers instead of SHOTS. Have the following information ready, at minimum:
  • duration of exposure to out-of-range temperatures
  • the temperature range your vaccines were exposed to

Contact information for vaccine manufacturers: