The quick and efficient rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines proved to be an unprecedented feat; however, the distribution of the vaccines continues to be a challenge. Intense temperature regulations are difficult to maintain while transporting the vaccines long distances and with potential shipping delays. A foolproof solution is necessary to avoid vaccine compromise, which can occur if temperatures are not stored within 1 degree Fahrenheit of their ideal temperature. 

The two FDA approved vaccines both require unique temperature regulation. Moderna requires that it be stored and transported at 20° C and can be refrigerated from 28° C for up to 30 days. Pfizer can be transported at 20° C for two weeks and can be refrigerated from 28° C for up to 5 days.

The CDC reported on Monday that the U.S. has wasted more than 82 million COVID vaccine doses, meaning that just over 11% of doses the federal government distributed between December 202 through mid-May were discarded. This amounts to 20 million more doses wasted than the 65 million reported in February from The Associated Press (Casiano, 2022).

To solve for this, we must identify the route of the loss. The reasons for vaccine wastage were reported as breakage, storage and transportation problems, expiration, and shots that were prepared but not used. As a large contributor to this figure, if storage and transportation issues can be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether, the amount of waste will dramatically decrease. 

Pfizer and Moderna initially started their transportation of the vaccines relying heavily on the use of dry ice and gel packs, which are unreliable, have short life spans, and can be dangerous to both handlers and the environment. 

FDA approved containers constructed for vaccine transportation and alternative refrigeration solutions, like phase change materials, can turn this risky business into dependable cold chain transportation.

Phase Change Materials (PCMs) are equipped to store and release large amounts of energy — maintaining a temperature within a specific range. PCMs can reliably maintain 0° C (refrigerated), -7° C (frozen), -16° C (frozen), and 21° C (ultra-cold) temperatures depending on the application. A 0° C PCM can maintain the refrigerated temperature needed to store thawed/refrigerated mRNA COVID vaccine for 30 days with appropriate totes and recharged PCMs.

TCP’s PC-21 will precisely maintain the desired temperature and when paired with our lightweight insulated Totes is capable of transporting between 350-2100 doses of Moderna vaccine at -21 centigrade for many hours.

The same “system” by changing the PCM to TCP’s PC0 (0 centigrade) can maintain the refrigerated temperature that can store Moderna’s vaccine for 30 days and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5 days.

Both Kaiser Permanente and Sloan Kettering use TCP refrigerated solutions, both Tote and PC0, to transport Biological Pharmaceuticals and specimens.


Casiano, L. (2022, June 6). US has wasted more than 82 million COVID-19 vaccine doses: Report. Fox News. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from