New York redistributes existing flu vaccine supplies

New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., has announced the New York State Department of Health has begun distribution of its current supply of flu vaccine to help address the needs of local health departments and children served by a federal vaccination program.

It is critical to note that this redistribution applies only to the limited vaccine that has already been shipped to the New York State Department of Health for two specific purposes: the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program and to augment local health department supplies.

New York and the nation await a determination from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as to how the federal agency will distribute the 22.4 million doses of vaccine that has not yet been shipped from manufacturer Aventis Pasteur.

"The amount of vaccine we are shipping out today is helpful, but it is limited," Dr. Novello said. "The important thing to remember about the efforts of the CDC, the State and the counties is that the flu vaccine redistribution will continue over a period of months.

"If you are someone who is in a priority group for vaccination, please continue to seek a flu shot, but realize that you may need to be patient as well as persistent."

The majority of the vaccine being distributed by the State Health Department this week (42,000 doses) is earmarked for VFC providers. The federal VFC program serves children who are uninsured or underinsured, enrolled in Medicaid, or Native American.

In addition, more than 32,000 doses of flu vaccine are being shipped to local health departments. The number of doses allotted to each department was calculated through a population-based allocation formula devised in conjunction with the New York State Association of County Health Officials.

Local Health Departments will make decisions about use of the redistributed vaccine according to their particular circumstances. Some counties may provide vaccine to long term care facilities and other institutions that treat a large number of individuals at high risk. Others may offer vaccine to health care providers, for their high risk patients. Local health departments that intend to offer any of this redistributed vaccine to members of the general public will make an announcement through the media.

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