Vitamin A Laboratory – External Quality Assessment (VITAL-EQA) Program

The VITAL-EQA program provides laboratories engaged in public health work an independent, biannual assessment of their analytical performance for serum vitamin A and other selected nutritional biomarkers.

Target participants:

Laboratories engaged in public health work in low-resource settings.

Program goal:

Maintain the quality of measurements for selected nutritional biomarkers through continuous laboratory participation over time.

Featured analytes:

Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A and D)
Water-soluble vitamins (folate and vitamin B12)
Iron-status indicators (ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor)
Inflammation indicators (C-reactive protein)

Participant requirements:

  • Receive three (3) serum samples during each spring and fall challenge
  • Analyze samples over two (2) days and return data to CDC
  • Receive a summary report for each challenge showing the measurement imprecision and the percent difference compared to CDC routine CLIA-approved methods

About the VITAL-EQA Program

CDC’s Nutritional Biomarkers Branch (NBB) established the VITAL-EQA program in 2003. The program provides laboratories engaged in public health work, in low-resource settings, an independent assessment of their analytical performance. VITAL-EQA is a free, voluntary, non-regulatory external quality assessment (EQA) program. It does not provide assay certification or laboratory accreditation.
The VITAL-EQA program uses pooled serum materials and objective quality goals based on biologic variation to assess method performance. Because of the small number of samples, the VITAL-EQA program cannot comprehensively assess method performance, nor does it provide an annual performance report. However, continuous participation over time can provide useful information on long-term method performance. Participants can use results to improve precision and method comparability across laboratories.
Along with other CDC programs, VITAL-EQA supports the CDC International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control (IMMPaCt) program. IMMPaCt is dedicated to the elimination of micronutrient malnutrition worldwide.

Shipping and Reporting Schedule

Participating laboratories must be able to receive frozen samples packed in dry ice, retrieve samples from customs at the airport, and pay for any costs required by customs. Laboratories must also commit to completing sample analyses and providing results within six (6) weeks of delivery.

Costs of the VITAL-EQA Program

Materials are available free of charge.

Enrolling in the VITAL-EQA Program

For more information about enrolling in the program, please contact Eligibility is limited to laboratories conducting public health activities and enrollment is at CDC’s discretion. Eligible laboratories will receive an enrollment form to complete and return to CDC.

Page last reviewed: March 6, 2019