VNAA Applauds Connecticut Attorney General's Inquiry into Flu Vaccine Distribution Practices and Potential Risk to Frail Elders

VNAA Applauds Connecticut Attorney General's Inquiry into Flu Vaccine Distribution Practices and Potential Risk to Frail Elders

Download image National Group Calls Practices "Unfair;" Sees Seasonal Flu Vaccine Access Problems in 20 Other States

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) today endorsed action by Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to examine a manufacturer's seasonal flu vaccine distribution practices in Connecticut. Noting in his letter to a manufacturer that disproportionate cutbacks in vaccine supplies to VNAs in Connecticut "create the potential for serious public health impacts," Mr. Blumenthal requested information on the company's distribution plan and the steps it is taking to restore the missing supply.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090930/DC84572LOGO )

If within the next few days VNAs in Connecticut and 20 other states do not receive the seasonal influenza vaccine doses they ordered earlier this year, they will be forced to begin cancelling thousands of community clinics scheduled over the coming weeks, resulting in the potential for wide-spread outbreak of seasonal influenza, which would be particularly devastating in light of the 2009 H1N1 influenza also circulating.

"The VNAA believes that the public health of many communities across the country, not just in Connecticut, could be severely compromised if this distribution failure is not resolved quickly," said Andy Carter, President and CEO of the VNAA. "We urge other public officials to look into this urgent matter and push for an equitable solution that leads to the timely delivery of the doses VNAA members ordered."

"We have alerted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that despite reports of adequate overall vaccine supplies, several deeply troubling supply shortages have emerged that in our opinion threaten equal access to immunization," Carter stated. "It is unfair that many of the frail homebound elderly we serve may face potentially life threatening delays in access to the flu vaccine," he concluded. He also emphasized that VNAs, as key providers in community settings, immunize healthcare workers and first responders whose access to timely immunization is critical for public health.

VNAs--nonprofit, community-based home healthcare agencies--have served their communities for more than 100 years and have a long tradition of providing influenza vaccine to homecare patients, senior citizens, healthcare workers and first responders, as well as chronically ill patients and their families. Yet, through inequitable distribution practices, VNAA members cannot gain access to the seasonal influenza vaccine they were promised.

To view Mr. Blumenthal's recent press release, visit: http://vnaa.org/vnaa/g/?h=html/doc/Flu_Vaccine_Investigation.pdf.

About VNAA

The VNAA is the official national association for nonprofit home healthcare and hospice agencies who care for and treat approximately 4 million patients each year. VNAA members share a mission to provide cost-effective and compassionate care to some of the nation's most vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Collectively, VNAA members administered more than 1.5 million doses of flu vaccine in 2008. Visit www.VNAA.org to locate a VNA or to find a flu clinic near you.

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