With supplies of swine flu vaccine tight and demand surging, some health officials are catching flack for another Wall Street bailout.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Goldman Sachs headquarters got a few hundred doses of swine flu vaccine.
Goldman Sachs headquarters got a few hundred doses of swine flu vaccine. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr.Thomas Frieden sent a not-so-friendly letter yesterday to state and local health officials reminding them to make sure that scarce swine flu vaccine goes to priority groups, such as kids and health-care workers.
How come? The Wall Street Journal reports trouble in the Big Apple, where Frieden was health commissioner until decamping for Atlanta in June. Some New York employers, including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, got doses of the swine flu vaccines to give to their workers.
The companies agreed to use the vaccine only for high-risk adults, such as pregnant women. Still, the notion that private employers might get vaccine now rankled some. Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, demanded an explanation from officials and expressed concern about "favored treatment for the privileged," the Journal reported.
Frieden told public health officials they better make clear to the public that vaccine is being doled out according to "science-based vaccination recommendations." And that, he wrote, may mean, explaining publicly "how the vaccine available to you is being targeted, and the basis for targeting."
If health departments give vaccine (all of which is being paid for by the feds) to other people to administer, then officials need to make sure those folks live up to their end of the bargain.
Great Swine Flu North: Up in Canada there's a furor over professional hockey players getting swine flu vaccine before people in priority groups. A health official in Alberta was fired over a decision to give vaccine to players on the Calgary Flames.