CDC Looks for Solutions for Potential Flu Vaccine Shortages
So long as only a few companies are producing the influenza vaccine, the United States "risk[s]" a shortage like last year's, participants at a CDC meeting yesterday said. The AP/Contra Costa Times reports that the shortage last year was the result of the FDA ordering two vaccine producers to correct manufacturing problems and manufacturers' difficulty in producing the appropriate influenza strain. This year, there are only three companies producing the vaccine. Martin Myers, director of the CDC's National Vaccine Program Office, told doctors and health officials at the meeting that the supply must be increased by "attract[ing] other manufacturers into the marketplace." He said, "The private sector usually works pretty good until a vaccine is in short supply. It's then hard to track where vaccines go and who gets them" (Wyatt, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/1). In response to last season's shortage, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a bill that would authorize the HHS secretary to declare a national health emergency in the event of a vaccine shortage or flu epidemic and would permit federal officials to seize and distribute vaccines (American Health Line, 5/23). But conference participants did not advocate increased government control of vaccine production and instead suggested that industry and doctors collaborate to "better predict who needs shots and when." CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan said, "The system is fragile, inefficient and inadequate, and needs to be improved upon." Influenza kills about 20,000 people each year, typically the elderly or those with chronic illnesses (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.