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At least 25 health agencies get less swine flu vaccine than state average

The agencies, including those in Pasadena and in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, received less than the state average of 45% of their orders due to distribution problems.

November 05, 2009|Molly Hennessy-Fiske

At least 25 public health agencies have received less than the state average of 45% of their order of H1N1 flu vaccines due to distribution problems, state officials said Wednesday.

"It was supposed to be a short-term problem, but it has stretched out," said Mike Sicilia, spokesman for the state Department of Public Health.

Federal officials bought the vaccines and contracted with a division of San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. to distribute them nationally. Some county agencies received as little as 31% of the vaccines they ordered. Sicilia said state officials are working with McKesson to redirect new shipments to agencies that were shortchanged, including those in Pasadena and in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Jim Lindley, director of San Bernardino County's public health department, said that due to shipping delays, some local hospitals such as St. Bernardine Medical Center were left without any H1N1 vaccines, even for staff. The county has received 17,000 doses, he said, and gave 1,000 of them to St. Bernardine. State officials have promised more, but Lindley was not sure how much will arrive in coming weeks. "We just need to know how much we're not going to get so we can plan for it," he said.

Orange County has received about 90,000 vaccines so far, or 39% of its order, said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the county's health care agency.

"While we'd like to have more, we understand why we don't and we're doing the best we can with what we have," Thompson said.

Late Tuesday, the state notified affected city and county health agencies that had received less than the state's share of vaccine orders, and promised that they would be first in line for new shipments.

Pasadena has received about 25,000 doses, or 38% of its order, said Dr. Takashi Wada, director of the city's public health department. He said it was unclear why the majority of private providers, including Huntington Memorial Hospital, initially had not received any vaccines, while Kaiser Permanente received early shipments directly.

"The state is distributing the vaccine using a sort of random process," Wada said.

Sicilia confirmed Kaiser received preferential treatment.

"They do a great job of seasonal [flu] vaccine" distribution, he said. "They did a presentation before state health officers, and we thought it would be good for them to have it. They got some of the first."

Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson has said they received "a fraction of what we ideally need," but would not say how many vaccines.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Vaccine shortage

At least 25 public health agencies statewide have received less than 45% of their order of H1N1 flu shots due to distribution problems. The percentages received, by agency:

Berkeley 37

Butte County 34

El Dorado County 38

Fresno County 36

Kern County 43

Lake County 35

Marin County 31

Mendocino County 35

Merced County 35

Orange County 39

Pasadena 38

Plumas County 35

Riverside County 36

Sacramento County 37

San Benito County 32

San Bernardino County 36

San Joaquin County 37

San Luis Obispo County 42

San Mateo County 38

Santa Barbara County 39

Santa Clara County 33

Siskiyou County 39

Stanislaus County 36

Tulare County 35

Yolo County 36

Source: Public health officials

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