Earlier this year, Hancock Physician’s Network (HPN) set out to improve their vaccine program through the implementation of temperature monitoring and medical-grade refrigeration. The goal was to standardize and optimize the vaccine program across the entire network. HPN has officially installed wireless temperature monitoring on all their cold storage equipment, and replaced all non-medical-grade refrigerators with Helmer Scientific refrigerators which are designed specifically for vaccine storage.
The Network is multi-disciplinary and includes family, pediatric, internal medicine and immediate care practices, all which use and store vaccines. These locations are storing anywhere from three to 20 different types of vaccines. The family practice locations alone are storing 20 different vaccines on average with at least 10-20 doses of each. Two of the family practices as well as the pediatric location, are Vaccines for Children (VFC) providers.
The VFC program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians' offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers. Children who are eligible for VFC vaccines are entitled to receive those vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The VFC program enforces strict requirements for the storage and handling of vaccines. Providers who participate must meet an extremely high standard for vaccine storage. Proper storage ensures efficacy and effectiveness of these federally funded vaccines. The Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit outlines best practices and requirements for participation in the VFC program.
Temperature monitoring and pharmaceutical, or medical-grade refrigeration is discussed in depth in the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This toolkit is a comprehensive guide for providers when it comes to selecting temperature monitoring and refrigeration. HPN took these guidelines into serious consideration through the process.
Health networks across the country are in various stages of making these changes to better monitor and manage their vaccine programs. Providing the level of patient care demanded by the VFC program takes tremendous effort, resources, and financial investment. The organizations that choose to make these changes in continuous temperature monitoring and medical-grade refrigeration will quickly recover their investment by protecting their valuable and expensive vaccines. More importantly, these networks will help ensure that they are providing their communities safe and effective vaccinations for the fight against preventable disease.
Learn more about HPN’s efforts to enhance their vaccine program through temperature monitoring and medical-grade cold storage by downloading the white paper below.