CDC site tracks flu vaccine

State officials now can track flu vaccine shipments on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention secure Web site.

Health officials have been grappling with flu vaccine shortages in recent weeks. CDC officials launched the Web portal Oct. 26 so state health officials can see how many hospitals and doctors' offices have the vaccine. The Web site tracks who has received the vaccine and how many doses have been received, monitoring the distribution of the flu vaccine state by state.

Officials at Aventis Pasteur MSD, the sole supplier of flu shots in the United States, provides confidential information about customers.

"You have to have a secure certificate to use" the site, said CDC spokeswoman Karen Hunter.

Although officials in 15 states have had trouble accessing the site, officials in the other 35 states have logged on to the site, Hunter said. She did not know which states' officials could not access the site nor why they had difficulty.

Virginia Health Department officials said the Web tracker has been beneficial, especially because they lack the resources to survey everyone, including nursing homes and clinics. "Prior to the site, we didn't have any indication of what vaccine had been provided to the private sector in Virginia," said Trina Lee, a department spokeswoman. "We can't possibly call every private-sector provider and count vaccine."

Although state officials have no control of vaccines in the private sector, they can use the site to pinpoint gaps in distribution.

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