The office of inspector general finds vaccinations stored at wrong temperatures
An investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) found that many providers of immunizations provided under the CDC’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be administering ineffective doses to children, placing them at risk for contracting serious diseases.(See a copy of the report here.)
The VFC program provides free vaccines to eligible children through a network of 61 grantees and 44,000 enrolled providers. VFC providers must meet certain requirements for vaccine management, such as storing vaccines within required temperature ranges and monitoring expiration dates, to ensure that these vaccines provide children with maximum protection against preventable diseases. The investigation by the HHS OIG found that many of these providers are not storing the vaccines at correct temperatures and in some cases even administering expired vaccines.
Inspectors visited the offices of 45 medical providers in five states and found that vaccines stored by 76 percent of the 45 selected providers were exposed to inappropriate temperatures for at least 5 cumulative hours during that period. Thirteen providers stored expired vaccines together with non-expired vaccines, increasing the risk of mistakenly administering the expired vaccine. Finally, the selected providers generally did not meet vaccine management requirements or maintain required documentation.
The storage problem could potentially lead to less effective vaccines, but doesn’t pose a safety risk, the HHS OIG said.