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    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    Chill Pill Needed: The New York Times says that Manhattan's doctors are all in a fidget over the flu vaccine:

    Dr. Rodney Sherman, an oncologist on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who has 350 chronically ill patients in need of protection against the flu, is giving up on the United States government.

    After weeks of trying to get answers as to whether he is in line to get vaccine - and calm his patients' fears - he has decided to take matters into his own hands.

    This morning, he is flying to Canada, hoping to buy vaccine, even though he does not know if any will be available.

    It is a measure of how desperate private doctors in New York have become. While hospitals, clinics and nursing homes have all been surveyed by the state to determine what they need, private doctors say they have felt ignored.

    William Van Slyke, a deputy commissioner of the New York State Health Department, said that while New York's 70,000 private physicians have not been asked what they need, officials at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are checking with the two major manufacturers to determine who did not receive vaccine.

    As the flu season draws nearer, Dr. Sherman said, that explanation offers little comfort.

    "I am frantic," Dr. Sherman added. "This is bordering on insanity."

    It's true that private doctors are out of the loop, as usual. But, there's no reason to go globe-trotting to scrounge up vaccine. The CDC's plan to distribute the vaccine to hospitals, nursing homes, and public health departments is a sensible one. It will insure that 1) the sickest patients get the vaccine and 2) that vaccine is available throughout the country. Every county, no matter how poor, has a health department. It makes much more sense to distribute them to the health departments than to try to ship them to every individual physician. And the six to eight week time span it's going to take to distribute it is reasonable, too. The best time to get the shot is sometime in November. Don't panic.

    posted by Sydney on 10/21/2004 09:28:00 PM 0 comments


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