Vaccines for Children Program and CDC Guidelines

Making Sense of the 2018 Vaccines for Children Program and CDC Guidelines

Between 1989 and 1991, a measles epidemic in the United States sickened thousands of children and killed hundreds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that more than half of the children infected had not been immunized. In response, the CDC created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program to deliver recommended vaccines to all eligible US children 18 and under. 

The CDC outlines vaccine storage requirements to ensure that vaccines provided through the VFC program are properly managed and stored. In 2012, the CDC issued additional guidance regarding all vaccine handling and storage. 

For 2018, the CDC’s new Vaccine Storage & Handling Toolkit supplies the most current information on safe vaccine management. The guidelines are complicated, however, and there is a lot of confusion in the industry about how to comply. 

Steps to Compliance

Baseline requirements for CDC vaccine storage compliance directly concern the refrigeration units where vaccines are routinely kept. To ensure compliance – and safeguard the viability of every vaccine you offer – follow these recommendations.

  • Never use dormitory or bar-style refrigeration units. Because of the temperature variability inherent in this style of refrigeration, these units pose a great risk of freezing vaccines, even when used for temporary storage. A single exposure to freezing temperatures will completely destroy some live vaccines.
  • Always maintain appropriate temperatures for the vaccines stored within the unit. Refrigerated vaccines should be stored between 2° C and 8° C (36° F and 46° F), with a desired target temperature of 5° C (40° F). Frozen vaccines should be stored between -50° C and -15° C (-58° F and +5° F).
  • Use a buffered temperature probe, which is the most accurate way to measure actual vaccine temperatures.  A buffered temperature probe will closely represent the temperature of the product being stored in the unit and should be securely placed in close proximity to stored vaccines.
  • Every storage unit must have a Temperature Monitoring Device (TMD) for continuous temperature monitoring and recording.  CDC recommends the use of a digital data logger (DDL) set to measure and record temperatures no less frequently than every 30 minutes.

Protect your vaccines with Follett refrigerators and freezers

Follett offers a full line of high performance refrigeration solutions in every size and type to handle your vaccine storage needs. Available in countertop, undercounter, and upright models, Follett refrigerators and freezers deliver reliable and precise temperature performance.

In addition, the touchscreen user interface on Follett refrigeration units offer constant internal monitoring records that can be downloaded. Detailed data logs are automatically compiled for easy reference by date and time, aiding in compliance with regulatory reporting standards.

Good to Know: Vaccine Best Storage Practices

  • Food and beverages should never be stored in the same unit with vaccines.
  • Always store vaccines in their original packaging for additional thermal stability and protection from light. 
  • To reduce the risk of administration errors, never store loose vials or manufacturer-filled syringes outside of their packaging.
  • Whenever possible, store diluent with the corresponding refrigerated vaccines and attach labels to shelves and containers for clear identification. 
  • Never store any diluent in the freezer.
  • Temperature excursions (any temperature readings outside recommended ranges) require immediate action.
  • Remove expired vaccines immediately from storage or segregate them in a clearly marked container; return them to the VFC program within 6 months of expiration.