States ignoring call to plan emergency vaccine distribution

After being urged for years to blueprint plans for distributing emergency vaccines and drugs to deal with a potential pandemic, 13 states still aren't ready, according to the Trust for America's Health. Seven states--Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, according to the fifth annual report on pandemic preparedness from the Trust for Mississippi, North Dakota and Rhode Island--have also decided against buying antivirals from the country's strategic stockpile. The states that are doing the best job: Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. The key concern, according to the report, is that an uneven response to a flu pandemic would make some regions of the country particularly vulnerable, adding to everyone's risk of a major outbreak. And there's widespread public distrust that local authorities are able to deal with any kind of natural disaster.

For now, the U.S. government is stockpiling the pre-pandemic vaccine. "It's a vaccine that would work against H5N1 as it is currently circulating," Jeff Levi, the executive director of the trust, tells FierceVaccines. "Unfortunately, the dosage required is very, very high to get the immune response you would want. Adjuvant experiments have reduced the dosage requirements and may help make the vaccine effective against different strains of the virus."

The threat of a bird flu pandemic has triggered a variety of programs to develop new flu vaccines that would be more effective at blocking an outbreak.

- see the release on their findings
- here's the report on pandemic preparedness