Impact of US Childhood Vaccine Shortage Substantial
Reuters Health Information Services;
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the 2001 shortage of the diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine has left many Puerto Rican children at risk. Because of the shortage, the CDC in March 2001 recommended that doctors postpone giving children the fourth dose of vaccine if their stocks were low; DTaP supplies have returned to normal now, and the CDC has advised physicians to return to the regular DTaP schedule. The CDC's survey of nearly 1,000 toddlers in Puerto Rico revealed that the shortage resulted in just 32 percent of children on the island receiving the fourth dose of the vaccine in 2002, compared to 96 percent last year. Dr. Francisco Alvarado-Ramy of the Puerto Rico Department of Health noted that the findings could mean that similar trends will be see in the United States, although they may not be evident until later this year or even 2003.