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Vaccines Must Be Potent, Affordable and Available

by Ryan Champlin, VP for Operations, Cook Children’s Health System

At first it seemed like pretty bad news.

A new government report reveals that many medical practices fail to properly store vaccines. Health inspectors visited 45 offices across five states and found that 76% of them stored vaccines at the wrong temperature for at least five hours in a row during a two-week period.

That’s not the kind of thing that parents of young children want to learn because degraded vaccines can mean the expected dose is not being delivered. 

Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have to say about the initial report:

“While it is possible that some children have received less potent vaccines due to exposure to improper temperatures, our data do not suggest that this is a common or widespread problem."

Yet the CDC goes on to say that:

“While the safety and health of our nation’s children has not been compromised by the issues identified by the [Office of the Inspector General] OIG, the findings are important and underscore that we must do better at ensuring that all vaccines are stored properly at all times, including removing expired vaccine from units where viable vaccines are stored.”

We added the emphasis because we at Cook Children’s Health Systems agree.

Through our employed physicians and affiliated PedsPal GPO members, we provide several million vaccines each year. In order to be absolutely certain that each vaccine has the highest possible potency, we developed a comprehensive vaccine storage policy that we are happy to share. 

We have also negotiated exceptional savings on commercial storage units that don’t cost much more than traditional household refrigerators, but do a much better job of keeping vaccines safe. If you would like a copy of our policy or information about our storage units, please send an email to: blog@athenahealth.com.

Cook Children’s and athenahealth have tried to keep vaccine availability and safety at the forefront. We worked together on VaccineViewSM, athenahealth’s deep look into payer reimbursement for the immunizations that society needs today. We also collaborated on the application of two-dimensional barcoding to vials of vaccine to improve safety and improve to the distribution process.

Vaccines are one of the best investments that can be made in the health of our community. Thank you for your help in keeping all patients properly immunized.

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