Sandy Makes Proper Vaccination Storage Difficult

First of all, I hope those that experienced Superstorm Sandy are safe and working on returning towards “normalcy.”  Personally, I’ve lived in New Jersey for 27 years, and this is by far the worst natural disaster I’ve lived through.  As bleak as things may currently seem for those hit the hardest, please know things will get better.  Power will come back.  Everything will get better.  To those risking their lives to save others, and to those risking their lives to return our power, we thank you sincerely.

For the providers that lost power, please keep in mind that it is possible your vaccines have expired/spoiled.  According to this guide (which also has contact info for a number of manufactures at the end) from the CDC, refrigerated vaccines should be stored between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and frozen vaccines should be stored between -58 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is highly likely that all vaccines stored in an office that lost power without the benefit of a back-up generated exceeded the recommended temperatures.  If your office lost power but you had a back-up generator, please consult your temperature report keeping in mind that the amount of time the vaccine spent outside the recommend temperature is cumulative.  In other words, if it took 5 minutes for your generator to turn on and later it ran out of gas for 10 minutes, the total amount of time the vaccine was outside its recommended storage is 15 minutes, not 10.

If you think, or know, your vaccines were exposed to excessive temperatures, please inform everyone in the office that may handle the vaccines and document the amount of time the vaccines may have been exposed.  Next, clearly mark the vaccines so they will not be used and store the vaccinations in a separate, appropriate location.  Finally, contact the manufacturer and/or your immunization program for further guidance.  Do not throw out vaccinations unless instructed to do so.

Of course, with everything going on, vaccination spoilage may not (and probably should not) be the number one thing on your priority list.  But, this is just a brief reminder to; hopefully, assist you in getting things back in order.  Again, I wish you well on your road to recovery.

For additional information on storage please see these FAQ from the CDC.