Schein Reports Vaccine Preparedness

Edition: July 2002 - Vol 10 Number 07
Article#: 1277
Author: Repertoire

Henry Schein reports that it is inoculating its physician customers against vaccine shortages.

The Melville, NY-based distributor said that it was confirming pre-booked flu vaccine for the 2002-2003 season with its customers. The company expects to have more vaccine available than last year. In addition to standard ten-dose vials, it will supply pre-filled single-dose syringes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year the entire supply of flu vaccine in the United States was pre-booked by the end of May 2001. Because of this, the CDC is urging healthcare providers to order flu vaccine as soon as possible this year.

Schein distributed more than 15 million doses of flu vaccine to its customer base of healthcare providers during the 2001-2002 season. Medical Group President Mike Racioppi says that despite vaccine shortages, more than 80 percent of the customers who pre-booked with the company last year received their order complete by the first week of October.

Tetanus and Diptheria
Meanwhile, Schein said that in an effort to address a two-year-long shortage of tetanus and diphtheria toxoids adsorbed (Td) vaccine for adult use, it has secured approximately eight million doses of the vaccine for distribution to healthcare providers over the next three years. Full distribution of the product was expected to begin in June.

According to Schein, approximately 7-10 million people were denied this vaccine last year because of shortages. As a result, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has temporarily recommended usage of Td vaccine to only high-priority patients, including:

• Those traveling to a country where diphtheria risk is high.
• Those requiring tetanus vaccination for wound management.
• Those who have had fewer than three doses of a Td vaccine.
• Pregnant women who have not had a Td vaccine within the past 10 years.

Tetanus, commonly called lockjaw, is a nervous system disease caused by common bacteria that enter through a break in the skin. Tetanus causes serious, painful muscle spasms and can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow, and may even lead to death by suffocation. Diphtheria is an infectious disease most commonly spread from an infected person to the nose or throat of others. It can lead to respiratory problems, and is often complicated by toxic damage to heart muscles and the nervous system, which can lead to heart failure, paralysis, and death. Diphtheria can also manifest on skin, causing rashes, ulcers, and lesions.