I would like to clarify issues raised in the Nov. 20 article "State Taking Heat for 'Chaotic' Flu Shots." Since the H1N1 vaccine program was first announced by the federal government, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has moved rapidly to establish an equitable statewide system for all providers to vaccinate as many at-risk persons as possible. As the number of doses of vaccine has fallen substantially short of federal projections, understandable frustrations, such as those voiced in the article, have arisen. Delays have occurred everywhere in the country, regardless of the type of distribution system used in a particular state.
A direct-to-the-provider system, like the one being employed in Pennsylvania, is being utilized by most other large states to get vaccine to the target risk groups. Providers such as pediatricians, ob-gyns and schools are able to most efficiently identify and administer vaccine to our children and pregnant women who are at highest risk of H1N1 and its complications.
Since the first vaccine was allocated to Pennsylvania, we have made vaccine available to local health departments to serve those individuals who do not have access to a provider. We will continue to work closely with the Allegheny County Health Department to ensure that people in the target risk groups receive H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
Secretary of Health
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania