The director of the Centers for Disease Control will be in Iowa today, along with President Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary, to talk about the shortage of flu vaccine. The C-D-C’s Julie Louise Gerberding talked with Radio Iowa early this morning just before she headed for Iowa, and she had a message for Iowa’s elderly citizens. “There’s more vaccine on the way, coming out of the factory, about three million doses a week,” doctor Gerberding says. “We’re asking people to be patient. Their local health officers will know when the vaccine is available and in the meantime, we don’t want them to stand in line. Sometimes, standing in line is more dangerous than the flu itself.” Gerberding says people get tired and worn out from waiting and she says it isn’t necessary. “We’ll get vaccine out to communities across America as soon as the manufacturer releases it,” Gerberding says. Iowa’s Governor has said Iowa doesn’t have its fair share of vaccine given the state’s huge elderly population. Gerberding says the C-D-C is trying to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine. Gerberding says they’re mapping out the high risk populations around the country to try to pinpoint gaps in supply and the new vaccine that’s to become available will be send where the most vulnerable Americans, particularly the elderly, are. “We certainly are doing everything we can to make sure all of our seniors, including those in Iowa, get the doses that they need to be protected,” she says. Gerberding says it’s time for new laws to help make the vaccine-manufacturing business more profitable. Gerberding says the government can guarantee a market by buying a stockpile of vaccine, guarantee a fair price for manufacturers and reduce liability by passing a law to limit lawsuits. Gerberding says the government is buying a stockpile of shots and has increased the reimbursement rate for flu shots paid for through Medicare and Medicaid. The flu shot shortage has become a political issue and with Iowa a swing state in the presidential race, Gerberding will appear alongside Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson and the head of the Food and Drug Administration this afternoon in West Des Moines to discuss the issue.
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