Open government group asks secretary of health to come clean on mistakes concerning swine flu vaccines

The Project on Government Oversight is calling for transparency in the H1N1 vaccine program to discover why there is  a shortage of vaccine. -DB

Project on Government Oversight
November 2, 2009
By Bryan Rahija

Last Friday, POGO renewed its calls for transparency in the government’s H1N1 vaccine program. In a letter sent to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, we urged the Secretary to make public several aspects of the program, which continues to suffer from shortages. In brief:

The vaccine shortage may be an inevitable result of DHHS’s mistakes of the past. Those mistakes should be disclosed so they won’t be repeated. The lack of disclosure is a problem that is easy and inexpensive to fix.

Specifically, we argue that the Department should disclose:

Contracts for vaccine production; The extent to which the program depends on foreign manufacturers and the justification for this dependence;

Decisions that led to the delay in production of alternative vaccines.

This of course is not the first time we have made these recommendations (see our letters to Secretary Sebelius in July, August, and September). But after receiving a reply from DHHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie, we felt obliged to reiterate our concerns. Dr. Lurie affirmed the Department’s commitment to transparency, but unfortunately, did not indicate any plans to address these key transparency issues.
Copyright 2009 Project on Government Oversight