Ompad, D. C, Sandro Galea, S. Blaney, M.H. Coady, S. Sisco, K. Glidden, and D. Vlahov. 2007. "Access to influenza vaccine in East Harlem and The Bronx during a national vaccine shortage." Journal of Community Health, 32:195-202.
In October 2004, one of the major producers of the U.S. influenza vaccine supply announced that their vaccine would not be available because of production problems, resulting in approximately half of the anticipated supply suddenly becoming unavailable. This study was part of a larger effort using community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles to distribute influenza vaccine to hard-to-reach populations. Given the extant literature suggesting economic and racial disparities in influenza vaccine access in times of adequate supply and our inability to distribute vaccine due to the shortage, we sought to examine vaccine access as well as awareness of the vaccine shortage and its impact on health-seeking behaviors in eight racially-diverse and economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City (NYC) during the shortage. In our study few people had been vaccinated, both among the general community and among high risk groups; vaccination rates for adults in priority groups and non-priority groups were 21.0% and 3.5%. Awareness of the 2004 vaccine shortage was widespread with over 90% being aware of the shortage. While most attributed the shortage to production problems, almost 20% said that it was due to the government not wanting to make the vaccine available. Many respondents said they would be more likely to seek vaccination during the current and subsequent influenza seasons because of the shortage. The target neighborhoods were significantly affected by the national influenza vaccine shortage. This study highlights the challenges of meeting the preventive health care needs of hard-to-reach populations in times of public health crisis.