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November 4, 2009 > County officials concerned about vaccine distribution

County officials concerned about vaccine distribution

Submitted By Laurel Anderson

Santa Clara County officials have expressed concern about the small quantity of H1N1 vaccine doses it has received.

"Patience can only be exercised for so long when people are falling ill with a virus affecting children and pregnant women," said Board President Supervisor Liz Kniss. "We merit much more vaccine given the size of our population in Santa Clara County."

The County's population is 1.8 million, making it the largest in northern California. The County estimates it has 800,000 residents that meet the federal criteria of those at-risk for illness or serious complication from the pandemic H1N1 flu virus.

Early on, officials were advised that Santa Clara County would receive 211,000 doses as its initial supply of the H1N1 vaccine. That number has been reduced to 8,800 doses of the vaccine administered by injection.

"As the government entity charged with protecting the health of Santa Clara County's residents, we will be demanding more of our allocation of H1N1 vaccine be shipped and made available immediately to reduce the number of people who might become infected," Kniss continued. "We've been patient; now it's time to be vocal and assertive with the CDC and the vaccine's manufacturers."

Based on federal criteria, priority is to be given to pregnant women, carers of infants under 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical service workers, children and young adults - ages 6 months to 24 years, and adults age 25-64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications.

Only about 50 medical providers in Santa Clara County, including the Public Health Department, received an allotment of 14,000 of the 400,000 doses of California's allocation of the nasal spray. The nasal spray was to be administered to healthy children aged 2-10 years. However, vaccinations have not yet been distributed to California providers participating in the federal H1N1 vaccination program, except Kaiser.

"It's odd that a number of smaller counties have received a substantial portion of their requested allotments and that a single hospital system has received its allotment statewide," said County Executive Jeff Smith. "We not sure if the problem is a faulty distribution plan at the state or federal level, or a poorly executed one. Obviously, we're concerned about the health of county residents."

"There appears to be a lack of equity in the distribution system," continued Kniss.

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