2004-11-19 / Community

Addabbo Supports Flu Response Bill

With the flu season upon us Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. announced that he has sponsored a City Council Resolution calling on Congress to pass the Emergency Flu Response Act of 2004 which would address the crisis created by the current shortage of flu vaccine. Addabbo said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population become ill with the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and approximately 36,000 people die from flu.

The CDC also stated that older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, including pregnancy, are at high risk for serious flu complications, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes, and children may develop sinus problems and ear infections.

Councilman Addabbo said that the CDC has recommended getting the flu vaccine each fall as the single best way to prevent the flu.

Addabbo noted that on October 5, 2004, Chiron Corporation, one of the only two companies that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to produce the flu vaccine for the United States (U.S.) during the 2004-2005 flu season, announced that its license to manufacture Fluvirin influenza virus vaccine was temporarily suspended due to contamination, preventing any release of its product and reducing the expected supply of the flu shot in the U.S. by approximately one half. Since this announcement, the U.S. has been scrambling to ensure that those with the greatest health risks for serious flu complications are able to access the significantly diminished vaccine supply.

On October 8, 2004, the Emergency Flu Response Act of 2004 was introduced in Congress. The Emergency Flu Response Act of 2004 would require the FDA to review vaccines from Europe, Canada or Japan which were approved by the regulatory agencies of those nations, using a flexible and expedited review procedure, and would require the United States Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary to purchase additional stocks of approved vaccine available from those nations.

This Act would also provide funding to states to develop plans for effective distribution of flu vaccine, as well as funding to increase the stockpile of antiviral medications and to conduct dilution studies of existing vaccine and would also establish a vaccine clearinghouse to facilitate the voluntary donation of vaccine from individuals or companies with employees at low risk of infection to individuals with high risk and would further allow the HHS Secretary to purchase vaccine from employers or wholesalers who wish to sell it.

This Act would require that any manufacturer of influenza vaccine submit a report to the HHS Secretary regarding the availability of the vaccine so that reserve supplies can be directed to areas of shortage and would also provide the CDC with emergency authority to require the vaccine to be distributed through health agencies.

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