Amid growing public clamor for the H1N1 flu vaccine, the CDC’s top sheriff charged his posse to be on the lookout for instances in which people who don’t qualify for the woefully scarce resource are jumping the queue.
“Any vaccine distribution decisions that appear to direct vaccine to people outside the identified priority groups (can) undermine the credibility of the program,” Thomas Frieden warned state and local health departments in an email.
The call to action was prompted by reports that Wall Street bank employees and other well-heeled types were scoring the jab even as most of the 159 million people on the CDC’s priority groups couldn’t do the same.
Last Friday, some health officials denied that such transgressions had occurred. “Our system is designed to make the vaccine available to the priority groups established by CDC,” New York City’s health commissioner Thomas Farley told the Washington Post.
At the same time, the Wall Street bankers, who have truly endeared themselves to average citizens over the last year, were busy explaining they were providing the vaccines to qualified employees.
The Feds own the entire H1N1 vaccine supply. They have contracted with McKesson to distribute the vaccines, as directed by city and state health departments, to 150,000 qualified providers including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, pharmacies and the medical departments of corporations and schools.
CDC official Anne Schuchat said the rumors may have been sparked by legitimate deliveries to corporations, and that workplace medical departments are excellent venues to reach target groups like pregnant women and adults with chronic illnesses.
“When vaccine is shipped to an employer-based clinic, we expect it is being given to the target population,” she said.