Vaccines for children, which are provided to doctors and clinics by the U.S. government, may have been improperly stored, according to a recent study. If these vaccines are stored at the wrong temperature, be it too warm or too cold, they could be less effective in preventing diseases. However, the improper storage of these free vaccines isn't the only troubling problem researchers have discovered.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently paid a visit to the areas which ordered the most vaccinations back in 2008. In addition to storage problems, investigators also discovered that doctors were using expired vaccinations on children. What's worse, some were actually mixing expired vaccines with those that were unexpired, which ultimately derails the medicine's effectiveness in preventing diseases.
Overall, 76 percent of the medical facilities using government-issued vaccines had stored them at the wrong temperature for longer than a five-hour period. Even more distressing is that 13 of the 45 providers were guilty of mixing expired and unexpired vaccines. It's also worth noting that none of the facilities were following all of the program's guidelines and regulations, some of which didn't even have the proper documentation.
"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," OIG analyst Holly Williams explained in a recent podcast interview.
The government began offering free vaccinations in 1994. The Vaccines for Children program reportedly spent $3.6 billion in 2010 alone to vaccinate 40 million children.