Evaluation of the Distribution of the Influenza Vaccine by Health Care Providers in the U.S.
This study sought to better understand patterns of influenza vaccine distribution that occurred following advice to providers that they focus on high risk populations. Immunization tops the list of the ten great public health achievements during the last century. Despite the efficacy of immunization, vaccine- preventable diseases such as influenza are still a significant cause of mortality. During 11 of 23 annual influenza seasons between 1972-1995 in the United States, approximately 20,000 deaths, mostly among persons aged 65 or older, were attributed to complications of influenza. The objective for Healthy People 2000 was to have achieved influenza vaccination levels of greater than 60 percent among persons aged 65 or older, as well as among younger persons with high-risk medical conditions for whom the vaccine is recommended. The vaccination coverage objectives for influenza vaccine reported in Healthy People 2010 among persons aged 65 or older was elevated to 90 percent, while the goal remains at 60 percent for younger high-risk persons. In order to achieve these goals, it is essential that fundamental issues, such as the ready availability of influenza vaccine be assured. Many providers who found themselves without vaccine at the time they had already prepared to provide influenza vaccine viewed the resulting four-to- eight week delay in the distribution of influenza vaccines as a de facto shortage. Preliminary findings revealed a variety of responses to the CDC recommendations to focus immunization efforts on those at high risk: some non-traditional providers, such as large pharmacy chains, canceled immunization clinics altogether because they were unable to determine who was at high risk and did not want to have to triage their customers; mass immunizers, such as those who contracted their services to large organizations, often rearranged their schedules in an effort to first assure coverage for high-risk persons; and some distributors made an effort to distinguish among their customers who were likely to be immunizing high-risk persons and distribute limited vaccines accordingly.
FEDERAL CONTACT: Marika Iwane, 404-639-8769 PIC ID: 7704
PERFORMER: Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC