Tetanus/Diptheria Vaccine Shortage Causes Immunization Program Cuts
The sole manufacturer of tetanus/diptheria vaccine has quadrupled its price, allowing California to buy and distribute only one third of its normal supply, and forcing counties either to "dramatically" scale back their immunization programs or purchase the vaccine "at great cost," the Los Angeles Times reports. The manufacturer, Aventis Pasteur, says it was forced to raise prices because the vaccine was underpriced, and the company had spent millions of dollars to modernize its manufacturing plants. Natalie Smith, immunization branch chief of the Department of Health Services, said that California, which typically purchases about 210,000 doses of the vaccine each year and distributes them to county health departments, was able to buy just 70,025 doses for use in late 2000 and early 2001. She said that the health department is allowing counties to use the vaccine for children only. John Dunajsky, DHS's assistant immunization branch chief, said, "If we're not able to give it to those children who require it, we could possibly be building up a susceptible population" (Bernstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/13).