Abstract: Storage and Handling: New Guidelines for VFC Providers (43rd National Immunization Conference (NIC))

29 Storage and Handling: New Guidelines for VFC Providers

Monday, March 30, 2009: 4:05 PM
Lone Star Ballroom C3
Maria Volk
Wendi Cate
Natalie Nakahara

In recent years, the number of vaccine doses distributed to California Vaccines for Children (VFC) providers has dramatically increased due to newly licensed vaccines and expanded immunization recommendations. During 2007, VFC distributed over nine million doses of vaccine. The average provider stores tens of thousands of dollars worth of public and private vaccines in their storage units. VFC site visits revealed common storage problems that resulted in damaged or wasted vaccines. Problems included units that didn't provide sufficient usable space to safely store vaccines and vaccines stored in dormitory style refrigerators. California has recently released new requirements for vaccine storage that go into effect July 1, 2009.

VFC provider offices

4,100 provider offices in California

Project Description:
The goal of the program was to develop reasonable requirements for vaccine storage and handling, and educate providers on appropriate refrigeration and freezer units. The requirements are being implemented in a phased approach. The new requirements are aimed at ensuring providers storing large amounts of vaccine use stand alone refrigerators and freezers which provide more usable space and less temperature fluctuations than combination units. Materials have also been developed to assist providers in purchasing new equipment and storing vaccine properly. An end goal will be to decrease the amount of vaccine loss due to storage and handling, and promote good inventory management practices.

Results/Lessons Learned:
In the initial months of implementation providers have been willing to purchase new refrigeration and freezer units, but they are relying on the State for expertise and guidance on specific models. Our experience to date has shown that in addition to the written materials, field staff must be trained to succinctly and effectively explain the new requirements and respond to provider inquiries about refrigeration specifications. To date, no VFC providers have requested to disenroll from VFC as a result of the guidelines.