CDC Will Start To Stockpile Flu Vaccine Shots for Children
CDC confirmed on Tuesday that it will begin stockpiling four million to six million influenza vaccine doses, primarily for children up to the age of 18, at a cost of $40 million per year for the next two years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The policy, first announced by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson in February, is a response to the vaccine shortage during last year's flu season. In the 2003-04 season, physicians distributed almost all of the 83.1 million doses of vaccine manufactured by drug firms (McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/14). Most state health departments and many doctors reported last season that they had run out of flu shots in part because of the unexpectedly early start to the flu season. The early start left "parents lining up at doctors' offices seeking the shots for their children" as CDC urged "people to get their shots when there were none available," the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. The new stockpiling program could face challenges because the flu vaccine can be used only in the year it is made, and vaccine manufacturers will have to provide the reserve without diminishing the usual supply. The new policy, part of the government's Vaccines for Children program, could also result in CDC having to discard thousands of unused doses during a mild season. CDC official Dr. Stephen Cochi said, "It's going to be a challenge to use this stockpile in an optimal way" (Yee, AP/Dallas Morning News, 4/13).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.