Vaccines, for all the progress they’ve offered towards the eradication of diseases worldwide, are a bit of pain. In addition to the initial cost of producing them, storage, especially in mass quantities, can be incredibly expensive and as equally complicated. The basis for this organization’s very existence revolves around creating and maintaining awareness of this fact, and in assuring that those responsible for holding and administering vaccines fulfill the appropriate requirements of this task. The concern is unending, and in recent years has become an increasingly monitored issue, now and again thrust into the national spotlight with a revelation from Hartford Healthcare Medical Group that over 5,000 vaccines administered to patients were stored at improper temperatures, likely rendering them ineffective.

According to Connecticut’s WNPR News, “representatives [of Hartford Healthcare Medical Group] said 5,003 doses were given to 3,833 patients throughout the Hartford HealthCare system. The affected vaccines were for a variety of illnesses, including influenza, pneumonia, and tetanus.” The article goes on to mention that the discovery of the temperature discrepancy was made during a “routine check” (performed effectively once every 5,003 doses, I guess).

Fortunately, the immediate consequence of this massive oversight does not pose a direct danger to patients immunized with this batch of vaccines. At worst, they are simply ineffective. Still, for the 3,833 patients who received these failed vaccines, this still leaves them susceptible to the diseases they believed they had attained immunity from. Apart from being a waste of money and resources, this is the most pressing concern involving improper vaccine storage: the vaccine itself may not be dangerous but it effects the overall immunity of the community, allowing people to believe they are safe from something they are not. Since an extensive and eye-opening study of vaccine storage performed in 2012, incidents of this nature have fortunately been low. However, as this event in Hartford reveals, the risks disappear and the work is never done; and, as is true for everyone’s relationship with vaccines, we must all continue to do our part.

While Hartford patients believed to have received the vaccines in question have been contacted, anyone seeking additional information has been asked to call 877-707-4442, or visit hartfordhealthcaremedicalgroup.com/vaccines.