Updated
September 22nd, 2017

Vaccines Have Expiration Dates

MDs and pharmacists should note whether a vaccine has expired and if the storage temperature was appropriate

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When you get your vaccination, how do you know the vaccine has not expired?

Did you know that vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are labeled with required storage temperature ranges and expiration dates?

Yes, all vaccines have an expiration date determined by the manufacturer that must be observed.

Moreover, vaccines must be stored properly to ensure that the vaccines maintain the highest level of strength and effectiveness.

Additionally, vaccines must not be administered after their expiration dates. Vaccines can lose their potency and efficacy.

Which means their ability to provide maximum protection against preventable diseases is reduced.

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According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Inspector General, 76 percent of high-volume Vaccine For Children providers were storing vaccines at temperatures that were either too hot or too cold for at least five cumulative hours throughout the day.

By electronically monitoring the temperature levels in refrigeration systems, and keeping track of the expiration dates, pharmacists and physicians can ensure vaccines will work for you.

When vaccines are removed from storage, physicians, nurses and pharmacists should:

  • note whether an expiration date exists, and
  • check if the vaccine was stored at room temperature, or at an intermediate temperature.

For example, live-attenuated influenza vaccine that is stored frozen must be discarded after 60 hours at refrigerator temperature.

An expiration window also applies to vaccines that have been reconstituted.

For example, after reconstitution, the MMR vaccine must be administered within 8 hours and must be kept at refrigerator temperature during this time.

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But what should you do if a dose of expired vaccine is administered?

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The dose should be repeated.

Doses of expired vaccines that are administered inadvertently generally should not be counted as valid and should be repeated.

If the expired dose is a live virus vaccine, you should wait at least 4 weeks after the previous (expired) dose was given before repeating it.

If the expired dose is not a live vaccine, the dose should be repeated as soon as possible.

In the case of an expired live vaccine, the issue is not necessarily the routine minimum interval (three months in the case of varicella vaccines), but the interval that would prevent viral interference if the expired vaccine happened to be still viable.

This interval is considered to be four weeks (28 days). The repeat dose should be administered four weeks after the expired dose.

If you're not sure if the immunization was effective, you can perform a test to check for immunity for certain vaccinations, such as measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and hepatitis A.

Smart refrigerators can now connect the physician’s EMR to the inventory control system, closing the gap in potential revenue losses and managing to an optimal inventory level.

“The use of biologic agents is becoming more complex, with increasingly stringent storage criteria and more dollars at risk,” said Jeff Ulanet MinibarRx CEO.

“MinibarRx offers physicians and pharmacists electronically connected and monitored refrigerated solutions that performs inventory control and helps its users get the best purchasing rates,” said Ulanet.

A simple rule to follow when scheduling your next vaccination appointment is to ask your physician, nurse or pharmacist to check the label for the expiration date as well as the proper storage temperature.