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Flu Vaccine - Dec. 2000
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Flu Vaccine Availability

Many of the safety net providers working with Medpin are concerned about availability of influenza vaccine for their high risk patients. A Medpin summary of survey responses from California safety net clinics in fall of 2000 prompted a letter to California's Governor to express concerns and request greater government attention to vaccine problems. Medpin also attended a September 2001 Flu Vaccine Summit that included the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, and a number of federal, state, and local agencies planning to improve voluntary efforts to respond more effectively and appropriately to high risk patients' needs in future "flu season" time periods.


December 4, 2000
Tens of Thousands High Risk Patients Await Flu Vaccine

A survey of California's "safety net" clinics shows that many are still waiting for influenza vaccine. Community clinics, free clinics, and county health systems that responded November 28-December 1, 2000 to a Pharmaceuticals and Indigent Care Program survey report that they have not vaccinated a total of more than 40,000 high risk patients who should have highest priority for immunization.

The Pharmaceuticals and Indigent Care Program sent the survey to more than 200 clinics that serve low-income, vulnerable patients in California. Many of the fifty-five clinics responding to the survey provide a disturbing picture of the current availability of influenza vaccine for high-risk patients who receive care from these clinics.

Los Angeles, Chona deLeon, Chief Operating Officer for Pediatric & Family Medical Center notes that "About 375 of our patients are at high risk but we haven't yet vaccinated them. We have not yet received any of our flu vaccine." Cheryl Laymon, Executive Director of Samuel Dixon Family Health Center worries, "All of the county supply should have been here, but none has arrived to date. As you know, they are now saying it's not a shortage, it's just late. What's the difference, when the window for getting the shot is over?" Jacqueline Tran, Clinic Manager at VNOC Asian Health Center in Orange County reports, "We have a senior center in our organization and those patients have not yet received flu vaccinations. We have only been able to help a few and we did target that usage to our neediest seniors... We are awaiting 300 doses." Donna Stidham, RN, Director of Managed Care for AIDS Health Care Foundation in Los Angeles is also worried. "We have an estimated 4000 HIV/AIDS patients whom we haven't yet immunized.So far we have only been able to secure 80 doses."

San Francisco, Beryl Shaw, RN, Clinic Administrator for St. Anthony's Free Medical Clinic comments, "We were able to receive the vaccine we ordered privately. Yet, the health department did not receive any vaccine whatsoever. With a transient and homeless population, not receiving the vaccine in a timely manner is particularly hard because our patients have no telephones/addresses and we cannot contact them to come back." Dr. Khati Hendry reports from Oakland-based La Clinica de la Raza that "We have about 3300 people on our "flu vax list" and only got 700 vials out of 2000 ordered from [Alameda] county and Vaccines for Children."

Tulare County, Dr. Barry London, Chief Medical Officer for Family HealthCare Network, comments "We have approximately 4000 high risk patients, but are allotted 900 doses. We feel that the State and County have been remiss in their distribution of flu vaccine." James Sweredoski, Pharmacy Director at Community Health Centers of the Central Coast writes "We couldn't understand why drugstores received vaccines before us and why those who did have it inflated the price above $100.00 per vial."

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