HHS seeks advice on allocating pandemic vaccine

Dec 21, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking help from the public in figuring out how to allocate scarce supplies of influenza vaccine in the event of a flu pandemic.

In a Dec 14 Federal Register notice, HHS invited the public to submit comments on which groups should have priority for receiving pre-pandemic and pandemic vaccines and on related issues. The deadline for commenting is Jan 18, 2007.

A federal interagency task force will use the comments in developing guidance to help state and local governments, cities, tribes, territories, and the private sector decide how to allocate vaccine doses, the notice says.

Besides seeking public comments, the task force is currently holding meetings to gather information from individual stakeholders, and it will also hold a series of "public engagement" meetings across the country to get more input, according to the notice. No dates or locations for those meetings were listed.

The government will publish a draft document for public comment before issuing the final guidance, the notice said.

Pre-pandemic and pandemic vaccines are expected to be in short supply at least in the early stages of a pandemic, necessitating a plan for allocating the available doses, HHS noted. Pre-pandemic vaccine is a vaccine against a virus that is believed to have pandemic potential.

"Depending on what influenza strain actually causes the pandemic, stockpiled pre-pandemic vaccine may provide some protection," the notice said. Last month HHS reported having enough pre-pandemic vaccine stockpiled to vaccinate about 3 million people with 2 doses each, with more on order.

Besides seeking input on which groups should be near the front of the vaccination line, HHS is seeking responses to related questions, such as:

  • What objectives, principles, criteria, assumptions, and rationales should be considered in allocating supplies?
  • How can fairness, equity, efficiency, and related principles be reflected in the determinations?
  • Who (federal, state, or local authorities) should determine when and how the vaccine is distributed and administered?

The agency asks that responses be limited to 25 pages, not counting appendices and supplements. Any information submitted will be published on the PandemicFlu.gov Web site.

HHS. Request for information (RFI): guidance for prioritization of pre-pandemic and pandemic influenza vaccine. Fed Reg 2006 Dec 14;71(240):75252-3 [Access via Federal Register main page]

See also:

Nov 20 CIDRAP News story "HHS awards 3 contracts for more H5N1 vaccine"

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