A “perfect storm” of old vaccine production technology, government directed distribution shortfalls, over optimistic estimates of vaccine dose availability, increasing numbers of H1N1 cases, and widespread publicity leading to increased public concern and fear have led to great anxiety over the shortage of swine flu vaccine. To be sure, some of the issues are certainly beyond the control of any company or individual. Still, more emphasis on traditional public health measures is needed to help stem the tide of spread of H1N1 and to limit its overall effects on the population, especially those most at risk. Also of concern is the questionable initial vaccine strategy which did not focus on school age children, their teachers and parents, since it appears that school age children are the primary source of spread of this virus.
It may well be that the involvement of the government via CDC has been more of a hindrance to distribution than a help. This of course raises concerns about any government involvement in actual delivery of health services, which is certainly a hot topic amidst the current health reform debate. As in noted on the CDC website:
2009 H1N1 vaccine distribution is a health department managed process similar to the process for the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. The distribution process for 2009 H1N1 vaccine builds on the existing mechanism for shipping vaccine to VFC providers. Vaccine orders are submitted by Project Area health departments on behalf of vaccine providers. These orders are transmitted to CDC and are processed and forwarded to CDC’s contractor for centralized distribution. The contractor, in turn, ships vaccine directly to the end user. The centralized distribution contract for the VFC program has been supplemented to provide for 2009 H1N1 vaccine distribution and distribution of ancillary supply kits.
Unfortunately, the above paragraph smacks of bureaucratic jargon and may reveal at least one area of concern both in terms of vaccine distribution as well as federal intervention directly in the care process . . . ben kazie md
Administration officials sought Monday to explain why so much less H1N1 flu vaccine is available than had been promised, blaming the manufacturers and the vagaries of science for nationwide shortages. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised that, despite delays, there would eventually be enough swine flu vaccine for all Americans and that the vaccine is coming out the door as fast as it comes off the production line. The secretary appeared on three morning television news programs to deliver the assurance. Slow growth of the vaccine in eggs and different production problems at the five companies making the vaccine mean the country will have only about 30 million doses by the end of this month. Public anxiety has surged as the swine flu sweeps across the country and doctors and clinics are forced to turn away many people. Confusion and frustration at immunization sites have increased the pressure on government officials and executives of the vaccine manufacturers to explain why optimistic pronouncements this summer about the vaccine’s availability ended up so far off the mark.
Why such a shortage of swine flu vaccine? – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102603487.
Assurances on Swine Flu Vaccine – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27brfs-ASSURANCESON_BRF.html?_r=1
Allocation and Distribution of H1N1 Vaccine – http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/vaccination/statelocal/centralized_distribution_qa.ht