Nick Rees Oct. 7, 2009, 5:00pm
HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut's Visiting Nurse Associations will receive their full requested supply of seasonal flu vaccine following a reversal of plans by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc.
Novartis, a leading vaccine maker, will also provide double the doses of the vaccine nationwide. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office negotiated the number of doses to be received by VNAs from 100,000 to 200,000 doses.
"The VNAs are a vital link in public health efforts to combat the flu. In Connecticut, as elsewhere, VNAs are the primary provider of vaccines to the elderly homebound population, which is most vulnerable to severe illness and death from the seasonal flu," Blumenthal said.
"VNAs are also a main supplier of seasonal flu vaccines to state emergency medical responders and healthcare workers.
"This step will literally save lives. This victory for public health restores the Connecticut VNA's requested supply of flu vaccine, vital to protecting people who are vulnerable or needy or homebound, as well as health workers."
Initially, Novartis said that the Connecticut VNA would receive close to 30-percent fewer doses than it had ordered, leaving the state VNAs short approximately 6,000 doses. The shortfall in doses would have forced the VNAs to cancel flu shot clinics and placed healthcare worker vaccination in jeopardy.
"The seasonal flu is potentially deadly for VNA clients - a virulent virus that can sicken and kill," Blumenthal said. "This agreement means fewer will be stricken, saving huge costs in dollars, as well as suffering and even death."
In doubling the number of doses available, the state is now assured that the VNAs will not have to sacrifice shots meant for schools, health clinics and other public health efforts in combating the seasonal flu.
"I commend Novartis for meeting its obligations to the Connecticut VNA and providing sufficient life-saving protections," Blumenthal said. "Our investigation is closed, and we have found no violations of law. We are grateful for Novartis' cooperation in the public interest.