CREW Asks for Investigation Into Why Wall Street Is Getting H1N1 Vaccine Ahead of Those Who Most Need It

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Asks for Investigation Into Why Wall Street Is Getting H1N1 Vaccine Ahead of Those Who Most Need It

WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
asked Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to
investigate why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved the
distribution of the H1NI vaccine to Wall Street firms at a time when
the vaccine is unavailable to most Americans.

Recent news reports indicate 13 companies, including Citigroup,
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Time Warner, have been cleared to
receive the vaccine.

The CDC is distributing the much sought-after vaccine to Wall Street
firms despite reports of vast shortages. In fact, just yesterday CDC
Director Thomas Frieden informed Congress that only 32.3 million doses
are available, far less than the 159 million needed to cover those at
the highest risk. Given the scarce supply, the CDC has recommended the
vaccine be directed only to those at highest risk: pregnant women,
infants and children and those up to 24 years, those who care for
infants, health and emergency services personnel, and adults with
compromised immune systems or other chronic health problems.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today, "Although CREW
has been unable to uncover the demographic makeup of Goldman Sachs,
Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase, it seems safe to assume the vast
majority of their employees are not pregnant women, infants and
children, young adults up to 24 years old, and healthcare workers."

State officials are concerned about the shortages. The head of
Alabama's Department of Public Health testified that 62% of the
vaccines ordered by the state will not be available until after
December 1, 2009 and the director of Minnesota's St. Paul Ramsey County
Department of Public Health said he is expecting only 7,800 doses for
more than 20,000 children. Los Angeles County's three public hospitals
ordered 110,000 vaccines, but have received only about 18,000 doses,
and UCLA's two hospitals received 1,000 doses for 10,000 staff and
35,000 patients.

This situation is echoed around the country, leaving most of those
seeking the vaccine unable to receive it with no remedy in sight.
Frieden admitted, "It is quite likely the current wave of influenza
will peak, crest and begin to decline before there are ample supplies
of the vaccine."

Sloan said, "In what world do Wall Street employees deserve to be
vaccinated ahead of high-risk children, pregnant women and health care
workers? Unfortunately, for the thousands being turned away in clinics
across America, the CDC has decided to prioritize the millionaires over
the masses. The public has a right to know how and why this has
happened and when it will stop." Sloan continued, "First, the bailout,
then the bonuses, now the vaccine. When will Washington start putting
the needs of Main Street above those of Wall Street?"

Click here to read CREW's letter to HHS.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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