Vaccines for Children (VFC) is a nationwide program intended to provide free vaccinations to low-income, uninsured or underinsured children in California and throughout the rest of the United States. A recent report by the Office of the Inspector General indicated that a significant segment of the medical offices administering the vaccines had failed to properly store them, eliciting concerns from officials and the public about the effectiveness of the vaccines offered through the program, explains a California personal injury attorney.
While there is some controversy among parents in regard to the safety and necessity of vaccines, many parents still comply with regular vaccine schedules for their children and many take advantage of the VFC in order to do so. In fact, approximately half of all of the vaccines administered to children in the United States are administered through Vaccines for Children. In addition, many of the VFC providers are also private clinics that administer vaccines to paying and insured children as well.
Unfortunately, while Vaccines for Children was intended to make sure that all children received the vaccines they need, an article in Time magazine indicated that a recent government report revealed that as many as 76 percent of physicians in possession of VFC vaccines had stored them at temperatures outside of the recommended temperature for at least five hours. Vaccines are required to be stored at temperatures between 37 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but some vaccines had been allowed to get too warm or too cold.
This problem with vaccine storage was discovered during random spot checks conducted as part of routine investigations of the VFC program by the Office of the Inspector General. The spot checks were conducted at the offices of 45 doctors throughout New York City, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas and focused on clinics that had received the largest shipments of vaccines in 2010. Almost one-third of these clinics also stored expired and unexpired vaccines together, making it easy for physicians administering the vaccines to grab the wrong one and inoculate a child with a vaccine that was no longer effective.
Because so many vaccines at these randomly chosen clinics were not stored properly, it seems likely that the problem of safe vaccine storage is widespread. Concerns that vaccines are stored at improper temperatures are also heightened by the fact that all of the clinics recorded temperatures differing from those measured by the representatives from the Office of the Inspector General. This raised concerns that temperatures are not being monitored properly.
Still, despite these concerns about safe vaccine storage, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the vaccines appear to be working fine and that studies conducted in California and Minnesota during pertussis outbreaks in 2010 revealed that vaccines were more than 90 percent effective in the short term and 70 percent effective even five years after the original vaccine. Further, the CDC indicates that this report on improperly stored vaccines should not make people question the safety of vaccines. The CDC takes the position that if the vaccines were not effective due to improper storage, mass outbreaks would have occurred.
Hopefully, the report will serve more as a reminder to medical clinics to properly store the vaccines than for parents to avoid taking their children to receive them.
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