The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program is a federally funded program, overseen by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Center for Disease Control, created to get children whose families can't afford vaccines, vaccines. The VFC Program works like this: the CDC buys and distributes vaccines to state and local health agencies, who give them to
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VFC registered local physicians offices and clinics. Those private offices and clinics then distribute those vaccines to qualifying children.
If that all seems like a good thing to you, you're not alone in your perception. However, the VFC program is not without its share of challenges. Since its inception, the VFC program has struggled to keep vaccines stored at proper temperatures, so much so, that the Inspector General Published preformed an investigation of the program, and in its report, stated, "VFC vaccines stored by 76 percent of the 45 selected providers were exposed to inappropriate temperatures for at least 5 cumulative hours during that period [2 weeks]."
If that seems like a bad thing, you're not alone in your perception. In fact, you're correct. Extreme temperatures negatively influence a vaccine's potency. Vaccines that aren't as potent don't protect (it seems contradictory, but trust us and science on this) those who are vaccinated.
"How hard is this?" you may ask. "How hard is it to keep vaccines cold?" Actually, kind of tough. Just sticking vaccines in a fridge isn't enough. Why? First, you have to prove that the fridge is cold enough. Do you know the temperature of your fridge at home? What's cold enough? More on that later. How do you prove your fridge was cold? More on that later. What about transportation? More on that later.
This is the first in a series of blog posts by Dickson named "The VFC Storage Series." We've written 5 blog posts on all things VFC, from acceptable fridges, to thermometer calibrations to the backup vaccine coordinator requirements. These posts are targeted at a wide audience. Whether you are a VFC provider, pediatrician, a nurse who works in a large hospital, or just someone generally interested in vaccine safety, you will find useful information (we hope) throughout the series, along with our own analysis of the practices, which will produce digestible blog posts (again, we hope) pertaining to this disputed and constantly changing subject.
On that note, here are some VFC resources . . .
Websites You Should Have Already Visited:
Things To Look At: