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NEW YORK — Some of New York City's largest employers — including Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and big universities — have started receiving doses of the much-in-demand swine flu vaccine for their at-risk employees.
The government-funded vaccine is being distributed to states, where health departments decide where to send the limited doses. In New York, health officials are allowing businesses with onsite medical staff to apply for the vaccine.
A frustrated Sen. Chris Dodd is asking why private firms on Wall Street have received H1N1 vaccines at a time when local hospitals and doctors offices have had a hard time securing sufficient supplies to serve children, pregnant women and other at-risk groups.
"Every day, I am receiving phone calls and letters from constituents in Connecticut about the difficulties they are facing with obtaining the H1N1 vaccine,'' Dodd wrote to Health and Human service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Schools in my state have closed; hospitals and health clinics report widespread shortages. It is shocking to think that private firms would be prioritized ahead of hospitals when the vaccine supply cannot meet the demand."
"I implore you to use whatever authorities you have to ensure that H1N1 vaccines already distributed but not yet used are promptly redirected to hospitals, schools, community health clinics, school-based health clinics, and pediatricians so that they can be made immediately available to at-risk members of the public,'' Dodd wrote.
Dodd came under intense fire earlier this year for having what his critics said was a too cozy relationship with Wall Street. Since then, the Democratic senator, who faces a difficult reelection campaign in 2010, has struck a populist tone.
"It is hard to believe that at a time when even the most vulnerable in our society are unable to obtain H1N1 vaccinations, the government is sending doses to private firms on Wall Street,'' Dodd said in a press statement that accompanied his letter to Sebelius. "People are frustrated by the government's response to this crisis, and with news like this, who can blame them?
"Vaccines should go to people who need them most, not people who happen to work on Wall Street. The Department of Health and Human Services should review its policies to ensure that healthy stockbrokers aren't using doses meant for pregnant women and schoolchildren -- and these firms should immediately return unused doses to local hospitals and clinics."
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City health officials scrambled to explain themselves on Thursday in the wake of media reports about bankers who got scarce H1N1 flu vaccines through their employers.
Members of Congress fired off letters demanding immediate explanations and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminded state and city health officers of the need to make sure the most vulnerable people get shots first.
"I am concerned that the distribution of the vaccine is resulting in favored treatment for the privileged," New Jersey Democratic Representative Frank Pallone said.
A shortage of H1N1 vaccines has frayed nerves, and public health departments across the country say they will not be able to meet the bulk of the demand until December or January.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged health officials around the country Thursday to ensure swine-flu vaccine is getting to high-risk groups, after criticism erupted over distribution to some Wall Street firms.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. are among several large New York City employers that got doses of the H1N1 vaccine, which remains in short supply as the new flu virus continues to spread and manufacturers struggle to produce ample stocks of vaccine quickly.
""It's an agonizing situation to be in. It's a very, very high demand and a very scarce supply," Patsy Stinchfield said. Stinchfield is the Director for Infectious Disease at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She notes the system's identified 10,000 kids who are in the high risk category, yet the hospital was lucky to receive about 4,000 doses of the vaccine so far.
"Our job right now is to identify the highest risk, not even just the high risk. We are really looking at the highest risk, kids who have multiple diagnoses," she explained.
Finnegan says we are starting to see an increase in the supply right now, though it is still far behind the demand.
NEW YORK — News that US swine flu vaccines, meant to be prioritized for the nation's most vulnerable, are being distributed to Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs sparked uproar Thursday.
The New York Department of Health said Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have applied for supplies of the H1N1 vaccine and are eligible because they are large employers with in-house clinics.
With H1N1 vaccines often scarce and populist anger already raging at Wall Street for last year's financial meltdown, the news triggered furor.
Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer for the largest US health care union, the SEIU, said it was "obscene" that powerful and wealthy private organizations got vaccines when "at-risk Americans are either waiting in line for hours or getting turned away.
"Last time I checked, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not prioritized Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other Wall Street executives over the rest of America," Burger said.
Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, from Connecticut, declared he was "stunned."
"It is shocking to think that private firms would be prioritized ahead of hospitals when the vaccine supply cannot meet the demand," he wrote in a letter to US Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius.
Big US banks have been issued swine flu vaccines that were meant for priority groups such as pregnant women and healthcare workers.
The banks, already been bailed out by US taxpayers as they teetered on the brink in the wake of the global financial crisis, were issued with the H1N1 vaccines after decision by local officials in New York, according to Business Week.
The Obama administration is contacting state and local officials to reinforce that H1N1 vaccine should be used for high-risk groups first following a report that some of New York's biggest companies got supplies, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The head of the Centres for Disease Control "is sending a letter to every state and city receiving vaccine to reiterate that vaccine should be going to priority groups," Gibbs said.
He was responding to a question about a report in Business Week that companies such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group got small quantities of the vaccine in the past week.
"This is a decision that local officials made," Gibbs said. "The vaccine should be going to priority groups."
"Wall Street banks have already taken so much from us. They've taken trillions of our tax dollars. They've taken away people's homes who are struggling to pay the bills," union official John VanDeventer wrote on the Web site of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union. "But they should not be allowed to take away our health and well-being."
Originally posted by Evasius
This news item's only purpose is to not only further boost worries of scarcity, but to stir the masses into wanting the vaccine even more by making sure those 'hated bankers' once again get something that many other unfortunate 'lesser' people won't.
It's all manufactured. This story, H1N1, the 'want' for the vaccine, and the vaccine itself.
[edit on 5/11/09 by Evasius]