Vermont fares well in vaccine shortages

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(Host) According to a report by the Congress’ General Accounting Office, in the last year more than half the states have had to ration childhood vaccines. The shortages have forced some states to waive immunization requirements for children entering school. Officials say Vermont has been able to avoid any serious vaccine shortages.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Virtually all of the childhood vaccines in Vermont are supplied through the state. Sue Berry is immunization program chief for the Health Department. Berry says thanks in part to careful management, the state hasn’t seen the shortages experienced in other states.

(Berry) “Our inventory didn’t get as low. Not to say that there weren’t days that we were saying, Oh, we better hurry up and get this next shipment of whatever’. Prior to this we were allowed to keep 60 days of vaccine on hand for everybody that needed it. With the shortages we were down to three days worth.”

(Zind) For the last two years, Vermont and the rest of the nation have experienced a shortage of the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Berry says there’s now a new supply of the vaccine.

(Berry) “There’s a letter that went out about a week ago to school nurses advising them that the tetanus-diptheria vaccine has returned to the marketplace. That had been in short supply for about two years and to catch up the one to two years worth of adolescents who didn’t receive it on time because of the shortages.”

(Zind) Berry says the supply of childhood vaccines has increased in the past several months ago. The General Accounting Office report agrees with that assessment but warns there’s a potential for recurring shortages because of low stockpiles of vaccines.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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