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NSF 456

Vaccine Refrigeration Approved to NSF 456

The continuous need to develop and distribute effective vaccines reached new levels of importance with the COVID-19 pandemic, but from the annual flu shot to one-time polio shot, immunizations and boosters are a vital part of international health. As scientists continue to develop new preventative treatments for such diseases, the healthcare cold storage industry must also advance its manufacturing and design for the proper storage of such life-saving materials.  

In 2015, the CDC and NSF International collaborated to create the Joint Committee for Vaccine Storage with the goal of developing a new American national standard for the design and performance of refrigerators and freezers storing vaccines. This new standard (NSF / ANSI 456) was officially issued in May of 2021, creating a more rigorous protocol for the actual design and performance of vaccine refrigeration to better reflect real-world storage conditions. 

Accucold now manufactures a line of vaccine freezers certified to NSF 456, with a full line of vaccine refrigerators scheduled for certification and production this summer. 


To help you navigate this ever changing landscape, we put together a few Frequently Asked Questions below:

FAQs about NSF 456

Who developed the new standard?

NSF 456 was developed as a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF), with additional participation from healthcare end users, equipment and vaccine manufacturers, and other individuals participating in public health measures.

How are the units tested?

The goal of the new NSF 456 protocol is to better mimic real-world scenarios for vaccine storage. In order to achieve this, vaccine refrigerators and freezers are subjected to increased door openings to ensure fast temperature recovery. Consecutive 8-second door openings and extended 3-minute door opening exercises are used to test pulldown time. Additionally, interior temperature uniformity is measured using aluminum weighted probes called Vaccine Simulation Devices (VSD) placed in 15 positions throughout the interior cabinet. The data acquisition rate for testing protocol records temperatures 30-90 times faster than traditional data loggers in order to ensure the utmost accuracy in data recording. 

Where are these units tested?

In order to achieve NSF 456 certification, cold storage units are tested by a certified 3rd party laboratory, such as UL, ETL, or NSF. 

What are some features of an NSF 456 certified product?

Common purpose-built vaccine refrigeration features include self-closing doors, audible and visual alarms for temperature excursions and door openings, temperature monitoring devices, 

Are Accucold products certified to NSF 456?

Accucold currently manufactures vaccine freezers that have been certified to NSF 456. Additional purpose-built product lines, including our Performance Series vaccine refrigerators, are expected to achieve certification this year. 

Is NSF 456 required by law?

No, at this time, NSF 456 is a voluntary standard. 

Do I still need to use the CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit?

Yes, the new standard does not replace the guidelines laid out by the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit, as those provide best practices for healthcare providers in the actual storage of vaccines. NSF 456 Vaccine Storage Standard sets the design protocol and performance criteria for the actual cold storage equipment referenced in the CDC’s Toolkit. 

NSF 456 Approved Refrigeration


Related Links:

How To Choose a Healthcare Refrigerator
Portable Vaccine Refrigeration
Solutions for Temperature Monitoring
Pharmacy & Vaccine Refrigeration by Accucold
Pharmacy, Vaccine, & Life Science Freezers


CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
Packing Vaccines for Transport