Vaccines For Children Improperly Stored

By Amir Khan on June 7, 2012 11:48 AM EDT

Injection
Free vaccines intended for children as part of a U.S. government program may have been stored improperly, rendering them ineffective (Photo: Creative Commons)

Free vaccines intended for children as part of a U.S. government program may have been stored improperly, rendering them ineffective, according to a report Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday.

"We do know that vaccines exposed to temperatures that are too warm, too cold, or past the expiration date, may not provide maximum protection against disease," Holly Williams, a program analyst in the OIG's office, said, according to Reuters.

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The OIG visited 45 medical practices in California, Florida, Georgia, New York City and Texas that ordered the most vaccines in 2010. The office found that 76 percent of the clinics stored vaccines at the improper temperature for at least five hours in a row during a two-week period. The vaccines were worth over $370,000.

The report also found that expired and unexpired vaccines were being stored together, which could lead to mistakes. Thirteen of the 45 providers mixed unexpired and expired vaccines and 16 kept expired drugs. The OIG office stressed that though the drug may be ineffective, there was no harm to patients.

The Centers for Disease Control has provided free vaccines to children since 1994 when parents cannot afford them. The Vaccines for Children program provided $3.6 billion worth of vaccines in 2010 to give out over 82 million vaccines, according to Reuters.

None of the clinics managed the drugs according to the program's rules nor did they have the proper documentation, according to the report.

"The CDC agreed to work with clinics and states to make sure the vaccines are better managed, and said the United States still has one of the best vaccination rates in the world, with 90 percent or greater reduction in preventable diseases," Reuters reported.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, with the CDC, told ABC's Chicago affiliate that they will institute more oversight and ensure that the problem does not continue.

"There have been changes in the equipment, the refrigerators," she said. ""There are many vaccines recommended now and it maybe there are more doses being stored in the average office than there used to be."

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