SENATOR GABBARD DEMANDS GOVERNOR ADDRESS H1N1 VACCINE SHORTAGE

HONOLULU -December 13, 2009- Hawai‘i State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) demanded today that Governor Linda Lingle and the Department of Health (DOH) take swift action to get more H1N1 vaccine into the hands of doctors for high-risk patients.

Gabbard said, "We're in the middle of a pandemic and people who need the vaccine to protect themselves and their families can't even get it. Basically, what we've got right now are bureaucrats standing between patients and their physicians. We’ve already had 11 deaths in Hawai’i. People's lives are at stake here, so we have to stop fooling around."

Gabbard’s first main point was that he has been contacted by constituents, doctors, and others in the medical community who are very frustrated with the DOH's current vaccine distribution system which has been plagued by problems. Doctors have complained that they've had little to no input in how the vaccine is being distributed, that there’s been a lack of transparency in the distribution process, and that a disproportionate amount of vaccine has gone to pharmacies.

Gabbard continued, "Secondly, why can’t we get more vaccine to Hawai’i now? We’ve received two thirds of our original allocation. Where’s the other third? Also, Director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says about 85 million doses of swine flu vaccine are now available. In addition, Fourteen states have so much H1N1 vaccine right now that they no longer have to reserve it for priority groups, but are instead making it available to anyone that wants it. My questions are why haven't we gotten our fair share and why isn't the Governor fighting for us?”

Gabbard concluded, “Now that the shortage of vaccine on the mainland has eased, the Governor and her team at DOH should be demanding that the CDC direct it to us. There’s absolutely no excuse for pregnant women, chronically ill patients, and young children to go another day without having the protection of being vaccinated. Given that our flu season will most likely peak after the Christmas holidays, it’s critical that we act quickly. No excuses. Everyone is saying how unpredictable this virus is. The Governor and DOH bureaucrats should be aggressive advocates for the people. To summarize: 1) Stop standing between patients and their doctors and 2) Get more vaccine from the mainland now.”

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.