December 8, 2009


I can't tell whether I have a bad cold or the swine flu, but I sure would have gotten the vaccine if it had been available. Now I know why I never got that notice:

When the swine flu vaccine was most scarce, health officials gave thousands of doses to corporate clinics at Walt Disney World, Toyota, defense contractors, oil companies and cruise lines, according to a USA TODAY review of vaccine distribution data from three states.

USA TODAY examined how state health departments distributed H1N1 vaccine after public outcry last month over Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs receiving doses while doctors and hospitals encountered shortages. The data show other companies got the vaccine in October and early November. In some cases, early doses went to people not deemed most at risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Now we have evidence of what my suspicions were," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chair of a House health subcommittee. "I'm afraid when you have these corporate initiatives, it's not primarily needs-based."

Pallone said he would send the CDC a letter Tuesday asking it to revise guidelines to states on the use of corporate health clinics.

Each state health department must decide how to provide the vaccine to people most at risk, and employers are a legitimate venue, said Anne Schuchat, the CDC's immunization director. CDC's priority groups include pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, health care workers and people ages 6 months to 24 years. "This is much less about what you do for a living and much more about how do you get the vaccine in the path of those target populations," she said.

It sure would be interesting to know who made those decisions - and at whose request.

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