Are Doctors Improperly Storing Vaccines? ~ ABC News
By KIM CAROLLO (@kimcarollo)
June 6, 2012
Inspectors visited the offices of 45 providers in five states who offered free immunizations as part of the government's Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. Nationwide, about 44,000 offices and clinics participate in the program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pay for the vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribute them.
The investigation found that 76 percent of the providers stored the vaccines at temperatures that were either too hot or too cold. They also found that 13 providers stored expired vaccines along with nonexpired vaccines. In addition, they said they found that none of the providers properly managed the vaccines according to VFC program requirements.
"As a result, the 20,252 VFC vaccine doses that we observed during site visits may not provide children with maximum protection against preventable diseases and may be vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse," according to the report. "These doses were worth approximately $800,000."
The storage problem could potentially lead to less effective vaccines, but doesn't pose a safety risk, the HHS OIG said.
If the problem is as widespread as the article indicates, some of the apparent ineffectiveness of vaccines could be storage-related rather than a property of the vaccine itself.
It'd be really interesting to see just how much inappropriate storage affects vaccine efficacy.
I'd also like to see follow up studies on efficacy vs. assumptions about how long any given vaccine confers protection.