At least 25 public health agencies have received less than the state average of 45% of their order of H1N1 flu vaccines due to distribution problems, state officials said Wednesday.
“It was supposed to be a short-term problem, but it has stretched out,” said Mike Sicilia, spokesman for the state Department of Public Health.
Federal officials bought the vaccines and contracted with a division of San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. to distribute them nationally. Some county agencies received as little as 31% of the vaccines they ordered. Sicilia said state officials are working with McKesson to redirect new shipments to agencies that were shortchanged, including those in Pasadena and in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Jim Lindley, director of San Bernardino County’s public health department, said that due to shipping delays, some local hospitals such as St. Bernardine Medical Center were left without any H1N1 vaccines, even for staff. The county has received 17,000 doses, he said, and gave 1,000 of them to St. Bernardine. State officials have promised more, but Lindley was not sure how much will arrive in coming weeks. “We just need to know how much we’re not going to get so we can plan for it,” he said.
Orange County has received about 90,000 vaccines so far, or 39% of its order, said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the county’s health care agency.
“While we’d like to have more, we understand why we don’t and we’re doing the best we can with what we have,” Thompson said.
Late Tuesday, the state notified affected city and county health agencies that had received less than the state’s share of vaccine orders, and promised that they would be first in line for new shipments.
Pasadena has received about 25,000 doses, or 38% of its order, said Dr. Takashi Wada, director of the city’s public health department. He said it was unclear why the majority of private providers, including Huntington Memorial Hospital, initially had not received any vaccines, while Kaiser Permanente received early shipments directly.
“The state is distributing the vaccine using a sort of random process,” Wada said.
Sicilia confirmed Kaiser received preferential treatment.
“They do a great job of seasonal [flu] vaccine” distribution, he said. “They did a presentation before state health officers, and we thought it would be good for them to have it. They got some of the first.”
Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson has said they received “a fraction of what we ideally need,” but would not say how many vaccines.
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At least 25 public health agencies statewide have received less than 45% of their order of H1N1 flu shots due to distribution problems. The percentages received, by agency:
Butte County 34
El Dorado County 38
Fresno County 36
Kern County 43
Lake County 35
Marin County 31
Mendocino County 35
Merced County 35
Orange County 39
Plumas County 35
Riverside County 36
Sacramento County 37
San Benito County 32
San Bernardino County 36
San Joaquin County 37
San Luis Obispo County 42
San Mateo County 38
Santa Barbara County 39
Santa Clara County 33
Siskiyou County 39
Stanislaus County 36
Tulare County 35
Yolo County 36
Source: Public health officials