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Phone: 1-877-243-8832
Business hours: 9-5
Fax: 1-877-329-9832

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Frequently Asked Questions

Storage & Handling

 Temperature Monitoring Requirements

A number of new federal VFC Program participation requirements, including those related to thermometers, thermometer calibration, and temperature monitoring, went into effect January 1, 2013.

Storage Equipment Requirements

VFC Providers receive vaccine at no cost to them. However, the vaccines they receive are purchased with millions of tax payers’ dollars. To reduce waste and spoilage of expensive vaccines, the California VFC program issued guidelines for vaccine storage units.

All providers must comply with these requirements in order to receive VFC vaccines.

Office Size Required Equipment
Very High Volume
10,000
doses/year
Pharmacy-grade or biologic-grade refrigerator-only units and stand-alone freezer units
High Volume
2,000-10,000 doses/year
Refrigerator-only (16.7 cubic feet minimum) and stand-alone freezer units
Medium Volume
500-2,000 doses/year
Refrigerator-only (16.7 cubic feet minimum) and stand-alone freezer units
OR
Pharmacy-grade or biologic-grade under the counter units.
Low Volume
Less than 500 doses/year

If your office is considering replacement of your current vaccine storage unit, refer to the requirements below and check with your local VFC Field Representative prior to making your purchase.

Unit Requirements

All refrigerators must:

• Maintain required vaccine storage temperatures (35ºF- 46ºF) year-round, preferably set at 40ºF.

• Be automatic defrost (frost-free) and free of any frost, ice, or water or coolant leaks. Manual defrost (cyclic defrost) refrigerators with visible cooling plates/coiling in the internal back wall of the unit are unacceptable.

• Have sufficient usable space to store the largest number of doses expected at one time (including influenza season), without overcrowding. Bins and drawers should be removed from the unit or used to store temperature stability water bottles. Vaccines stored in combination refrigerator/freezer units should NEVER be stored in areas directly underneath air vents, in deli-crispers/vegetable bins, or in the doors.

• Be used only for vaccine storage unless there is adequate space for storage of other medications. However, these products must be stored below the vaccines on a different shelf.

• Combination units must have separate temperature controls (thermostats) for the refrigerator and freezer.

• Be reliable, with a quiet compressor/motor, and have not needed frequent repairs. Units over 10 years old often will need to be replaced.

• Have doors that seal tightly and close properly.

• Have a minimum capacity of 11 cubic feet, unless unit is a Pharmacy-grade or Biologic-grade under-the-counter unit in a Low Volume VFC provider’s office.

• Have a working thermometer placed centrally in the unit. Thermometers must be certified in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

All Freezers must:

• Maintain required vaccine storage temperatures (5ºF or below) year-round.

• Provide space to store your vaccines and sufficient frozen cold packs.

• Have an automatic defroster. (Manual defrosters are acceptable only if the office has an alternate place to store vaccines when defrosting the freezer.)

• Have a working thermometer placed centrally in the unit. Thermometers must be certified in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

• Have doors that seal tightly and close properly.