State Receives More Than 250,000 Doses of Flu Vaccine
The Department of Health Services on Thursday received 271,740 doses of influenza vaccine that had not been expected for another six weeks -- "the first tangible sign" that "large quantities of vaccine" are being redirected to the state and organizations that treat large numbers of high-risk people, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22). In response to the national flu vaccine shortage, vaccine maker Aventis Pasteur has said it will distribute 21 million doses over the next seven weeks to states and certain private providers. California "stood near the front of the line" because its entire supply of adult vaccine -- ordered from San Francisco-based Chiron -- had been deemed contaminated, the Contra Costa Times reports.
According to the Times, public health officials "scrambled Thursday to figure out how to get [vaccine] to those who need it most" (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 10/22).
State Public Health Officer Richard Jackson said the new supply of flu vaccine, which is less than half of the 573,000 doses originally ordered, will be sent to county health departments. The doses should be administered to those at high risk, including seniors, the chronically ill and infants and toddlers ages six months to 24 months.
DHS spokesperson Ken August said the state will begin shipping the vaccine to counties on Monday.
According to the Chronicle, the flu vaccine delivery was "welcome news" for county health departments, which as recently as Wednesday had been informed that they might not receive vaccine for weeks (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22). However, some local authorities "complained that federal officials are keeping [them] in the dark about which private providers are receiving vaccine."
Anthony Iton, Alameda County's health officer, said CDC has indicated that it will notify local officials as to how much vaccine will be delivered per ZIP code, but that could still leave some providers with no vaccine (Contra Costa Times, 10/22).
The state already has distributed to local health departments 234,000 doses of children's flu vaccine, which officials had previously ordered from Aventis (Contra Costa Times, 10/22). Those doses are intended for children from low-income families and those enrolled in Medi-Cal or the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/21).
According to the Sacramento Bee, the local distribution methods and targets for the flu vaccine are "uncertain" (Griffith/Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
Iton said the vaccine delivery is "not nearly enough, which is why we have to be very judicious about how we distribute it" (Contra Costa Times, 10/22).
Glennah Trochet, Sacramento County's health officer, said the county might forgo vaccine clinics this season and deliver vaccine to physicians per their requests. "Many physicians have told us they have many frail, elderly patients who can't wait in long lines outside clinics to get vaccine, and we need to find a way to get flu shots to them before we think about clinics at the county," Trochet said. She added that the county has issued stricter eligibility guidelines than those recommended by CDC, and will ask healthy seniors to postpone vaccinations for at least a few weeks (Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
James Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, said the lack of flu vaccine could strain counties' emergency medical system. "The (flu vaccine situation) is going to make it real tough. What it means for patients seeking care is they are going to have to wait longer," Lott said (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/21).