Flu Shot Fiasco, Critical Incident Report

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

October 13, 2004 -- Now that the flu shot fiasco is upon us, the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) is doing quite a job. It is taking charge of the situation.

The List of Eight

Upon learning of the shortage, CDC promptly recited the List of Eight -- the eight groups of people who had already been granted high priority to receive the flu vaccine.

The List of Eight is made up of two geriatric groups, a chronic disease contingent, two groups of kids, women heavy with child, and two groups of caregivers. The List of Eight, as set forth by the CDC, consisted of:

  • adults aged 65 years and older,
  • residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities,
  • persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions,
  • all children aged 6-23 months,
  • children 6 months-18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy,
  • all women who will be pregnant during influenza season,
  • healthcare workers with direct patient care, and
  • out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged <6 months.

We would add at least one other group, namely people who are immunosuppressed. Anyone who is immunocompromised by chemotherapy or extensive radiation therapy or by a disease should clearly receive priority for the killed-virus flu vaccine.