CDC Issues New Requirements for VFC Vaccine Storage

January 2018

Technically Speaking
Monthly Column by Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler MD
Technically Speaking is a monthly column written by IAC’s Executive Director Deborah Wexler, MD. The column is featured in The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center’s (VEC’s) monthly e-newsletter for healthcare professionals. Technically Speaking columns cover practical topics in immunization delivery such as needle length, vaccine administration, cold chain, and immunization schedules.
Check out a recent issue of Vaccine Update for Healthcare Providers. The VEC e-newsletter keeps providers up to date on vaccine-related issues and includes reviews of recently published journal articles, media recaps, announcements about new resources, and a regularly updated calendar of events.
CDC Issues New Requirements for VFC Vaccine Storage
Published January 2018
CDC’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. VFC-eligible children are entitled to receive all vaccines recommended for them by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). CDC buys VFC vaccines at a discount and distributes them via state/local/territorial health agencies to providers who are enrolled in the VFC program.

Among other program requirements, enrolled VFC providers agree to adhere to specific guidelines for safe vaccine storage and handling. Beginning January 1, 2018, VFC storage and handling guidelines were revised to establish the following as program requirements (previously these were federal recommendations, although some areas may already have established these as state/local VFC requirements):

  • VFC providers must use continuous temperature monitoring devices (digital data loggers or DDLs) to monitor VFC-supplied vaccines during routine onsite vaccine storage, vaccine transport, and mass vaccination clinics.
  • Both primary and back-up DDLs used to monitor VFC vaccines must include the following features:
    • Capacity for continuous temperature monitoring and the ability to record and routinely download data.
    • Temperature probe is required to be buffered* if purchased by a state/local immunization program. (The buffered probe is a recommendation for DDLs purchased by providers.) *Immersed in an appropriate liquid or solid material that protects the probe from false readings resulting from sudden temperature changes when the storage unit door is opened
    • Active temperature display that can be easily read from the outside of the storage unit.
  • VFC providers are required to assess and record minimum and maximum storage unit temperatures at the start of each clinic day. (See additional information in CDC’s recently updated Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit.)

Important note: Along with the federal requirements noted above, providers may have agreed to additional state or local immunization program requirements as part of becoming an enrolled VFC provider. These requirements may vary between state programs. Be sure to consult with your state/local/territory immunization program for more information on how to meet specific state/local/territory VFC storage and handling requirements.

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