Flu Shot Fiasco, Critical Incident Report
Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht,
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
- persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic
- all children aged 6-23 months,
- children 6 months-18 years of age on chronic aspirin
- all women who will be pregnant during influenza
- 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.
So the List of Eight should be the List of Nine (or more).
CDC Allocating Remaining Vaccine
Now the CDC has announced that the remaining 22 million doses of flu vaccine
that have not yet been shipped will go specifically to the geographic areas and
to the people who need them most. The Aventis Pasteur vaccine will go to
hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and pediatricians and other
doctors who care for young children. High-risk children, seniors over the age of
65, and VA facilities are also on the CDC's list of high-priority groups to
receive the "first wave" of vaccine.
The remaining 8 million doses will be left to the CDC to "move around in ways
that serve those at the highest risk."
Thanks to the CDC
We have often been critics of the CDC. However, when it comes to the current
flu vaccine situation, we congratulate the CDC on its superb service to the
The CDC's response has been rapid, right on target, and pioneering. Dr. Julie
Gerberding and her many, many colleagues at the CDC deserve all our thanks for a
thankless job well done.
The Health World is One
Incidentally, why is Fluarix, the flu vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline not
available in the US? As we understand it, Fluarix is licensed in some 70
countries. Why not in the US?
And finally, while we were in line for flu shots
yesterday, we discovered that none of our new friends standing there realized
the vaccine they were about to receive was made in France! The health
world is one.
Last Editorial Review: 10/13/2004