Flu Vaccine Delivery Underway. Part 1

The National Immunization Program of the Centers for Disease Control expects 70 percent of the supply of influenza vaccine needed this year will be delivered by the end of November. Based on reports from the vaccine’s three manufacturers, the CDC says it is confident the remaining 30 percent will be shipped before the end of December, in time to provide shots for everyone who wants one, well in advance of the start of the flu season.

Widespread news coverage of the fact that manufacturing difficulties had delayed vaccine production and delivery this year has created an unprecedented early demand for flu shots, which is making the problem more vexing for state health departments and healthcare providers.

A spot check of several state agencies by drkoop.com showed that there are wide state-to-state variations in the rate of vaccine delivery. One reason is that the CDC appealed to the manufacturers to make shipments out of order, if necessary, to make sure that everybody gets at least part of the amount they requested. In normal years, vaccine requests are filled in the order in which they were made.

Where Has All the Vaccine Gone?
As a result, as of Nov. 10, the Massachusetts State Department of Health had received about 62 percent of its order, and was told that the manufacturer was holding the rest back until some time in November.

Florida had received about one-third of the 210,000 doses it needs for state-run providers. But Landis Crockett, director of disease control for the Florida Department of Health, says that represents only about one-tenth of the amount needed in the state, because physicians and private agencies provide the rest.

Louisiana had received no flu vaccine at all, but Reuben Fapia, director of the state’s immunization program, says several supermarket and drugstore chains had been providing vaccinations to customers.

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