Thirteen major banks and Wall Street firms got a private allocation of H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine, while vulnerable woman and children remain on waiting lists. I find this outrageous.
According to the Associated Press, swine flu vaccine has been in short supply nationwide because of manufacturing delays, resulting in long lines at clinics and patients being turned away at doctor's offices. The vaccine started trickling out in early October, and there are now nearly 36 million doses available.
In New York, the city Health Department is handling distribution. They've used regular health channels, but also decided to allow large companies with employee health departments to request vaccine supplies and administer them to employees. Companies including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were able to get the vaccine ahead of community residents, including vulnerable children and pregnant women.
The Centers for Disease Control have been clear on who gets priority for the vaccine: children and young people through age 24, people caring for infants under 6 months, pregnant women, health care workers, and adults with health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. These people need to be at the front of the line, not predominantly male bankers, brokers and stock traders.
To their credit, Morgan Stanley turned down the 1,000 doses they were alloted when they learned that even some local hospitals had not received vaccine for their employees. The other firms, however, said they planned to keep their allotments.
More than 100 children have already died from the swine flu this year in the US. Putting more kids and mothers at risk by shoving them to the back of the line is reprehensible.