Here's a quick update to my recent post on the flu vaccine shortage situation.
As Sanofi tries to untangle the mess made by its attempt to gauge supply and demand for the 2006-07 flu vaccine, the US government in its infinite wisdom has added to demand-side chaos. Last week, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to expand recommendations for routine flu vaccine to over 5 million US children ages 2-5 years old. This new policy, likely to be supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), will further strain the demand/supply mismatch we're already seeing each of the past few years. Furthermore, a Sanofi representative commented, when asked by me why they can't manufacture more preservative-free vaccine for children over 3 years old (the 0.5ml doses), that the production process for thimerosal-free vaccine is more laborious (i.e. costs them more money). It's my speculation, but simply because profit margins are smaller, more of our children will be injected with thimerosal-preserved vaccine than need be.
Look, again, I know there's no conclusive link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders, but there is data, both in vitro and in vivo, to support a theoretical connection. Furthermore, does anyone think it's a good idea to inject kids with a mercury-based compound?
The huge disconnect between public vaccine policy and the supply/demand kinetics continues to erode public trust in our government health agencies.