Shortage In Immunization Stockpile

Robin Moore, Director, East Texas Community Health Center
Robin Moore, Director, East Texas Community Health Center

Topping our news is the concern about a shortage of 'emergency' supplies of vaccines for children. In the event the stockpiles are needed there may not be enough vaccine for all children.

When East Texas Community Health Center Director Robin Moore heard about the vaccine stockpile shortage she immediately wanted to tell parents that current supplies of immunizations are available. "I think the critical thing now is it's not an issue at the moment. Nobody needs to panic about being able to get their kids immunized," assured Moore.

A panic would be warranted if the government had to pull from the National Vaccine Stockpile. It's nearly empty. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine explained, "This is for vaccines that are routinely used in pediatric practice day in and day out by family doctors and pediatricians."

Only two vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, and chickenpox are warehoused in the desired amounts. Stockpiles of the vaccine that protects children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis do not exist.

Moore watched as a three year old boy giggled while getting a routine exam. His doctor told the child's mother that when her son turns four it would be time for more immunizations. Moore knows the child's health protection could be delayed if there was a need to use immunization stockpiles.

"The stockpile is there in case of an outbreak of disease or one of the companies run into a manufacturing problem. So we've had to pull the stockpile a couple of time in the last couple of years for those very reasons," said Moore.

What frustrates the medical profession more than anything is the stockpile is running short because of a dispute between vaccine makers and the government over federal bookkeeping rules. Moore agrees with others in the field. "Let's just get everybody together and put them in a room and not let them out until they come up with a solution."

Unless the dispute is settled millions of children could be at risk, not necessarily today, but possibly in their future.