DISEASE CONTROL Contingency plans created to deal with possible flu-vaccine shortage
Trumbull and Mahoning counties ordered 10,300 doses for high-risk residents.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Local and national health officials are analyzing influenza vaccine use in past years to avoid a flu-shot shortage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created contingency plans to deal with such shortages, spokesman Curtis Allen said.
About 80 million or more doses of flu vaccines are used annually nationwide, he said.
At the Mahoning County Board of Health, the use of flu shots has nearly tripled since 1990, when about 2,300 doses were distributed.
The board ordered 7,500 flu vaccines through the Ohio Department of Health and through private providers this year.
But the county is not guaranteed to receive that amount, said Linda Ewing, deputy director of nursing for clinical services.
A shipment of 7,500 doses would cover an average flu season and also supply extra doses in the event of a vaccine shortage, Ewing said.
In Trumbull County, officials have ordered 2,800 vaccine doses through the state and directly from providers.
The order is slightly larger than the county's typical orders of between 2,000 and 2,200 in past years, public health nurse Nancy Norton said.Officials in both counties expect to receive their vaccine shipments in mid-October and begin inoculation clinics in late October or early November.
The public health supply, those doses provided through the state, is restricted to use for residents at high-risk for developing influenza. People age 65 and older, infants from 6 to 23 months, and anyone with a medical condition that compromises the immune system are considered high-risk.
Trumbull and Mahoning are two of many county health boards that purchase flu vaccines through ODH, which has ordered 240,000 doses from vaccine producer Sanofi Pasteur.
Though the boards receive doses at a reduced cost of about 50 cents each, vaccine recipients pay $5 to $15 because of administration costs.
An increase in the cost of each vaccine from $7.99 in 2004 to $10.40 this year decreased the amount of vaccine the state could order with a limited budget, said Tony Payton, manager of the ODH immunizations program. The state had ordered 260,000 in 2004.
Because the public health supply comprises about 15 percent of the total doses, vaccine producers can better calculate how many doses will be available, ODH spokesman Kristopher Weiss said. Medical professionals often can purchase nonpublic vaccines supplies directly from producers.
But supplies are limited because only Sanofi Pasteur is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to distribute flu vaccines in the United States.
That company is expected to produce between 50 million and 60 million doses this year, about 70 percent of the average amount used annually in the United States, Allen said.
The FDA is reviewing two other possible vaccine distributors, Chiron and GlaxoSmithKline, for the 2005-06 flu season.
Manufacturing problems with Chiron's vaccine at its production facility in England contributed to a U.S. vaccine shortage last winter.
If the FDA re-approves Chiron for U.S. distribution after an assessment of manufacturing changes, the company expects to produce 18 million to 26 million doses of its vaccine this year, Chiron spokeswoman Alison Marquiss said.
The FDA also is reviewing an application by GlaxoSmithKline, which could provide 8 million vaccines for the United States if it is approved, GSK spokeswoman Amanda Foley said.