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CDC Responds to CREW's Records Request
WASHINGTON - November 24 - Yesterday CREW received a response from the Centers for Control and Prevention (CDC) denying CREW’s request for expedition of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all records related to the agency’s policies, protocols, and practices for distributing the H1N1 vaccine. CREW filed its FOIA request on November 6, 2009, following press reports that private, non-health related entities, including top Wall Street firms, had received quantities of the vaccine for their employees at a time when the public at large is facing critical and vast shortages of the vaccine. The CDC agreed with CREW that in light of the public health emergency the H1N1 flu presents, the public has a compelling need for the information CREW has requested. But the agency nevertheless denied expedition based on its remarkable claim that through the CDC website the public has been fully informed about the distribution of the vaccine. Once again the CDC has chosen to ignore the public’s legitimate and ongoing concerns, adopting the paternalistic view that it knows best what information the public needs.
CREW also sent a second FOIA request to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on November 6, and received the perplexing response that any and all records would be found at the CDC, and not agency headquarters. Just last week Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, testified before a congressional subcommittee on HHS’s role in responding to the H1N1 outbreak. Her testimony alone demonstrates the inadequacy of HHS’s response to CREW’s FOIA request.