2004 Influenza Vaccine Shortage Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

2004 Influenza Vaccine Shortage

Internal PR Action Plan
MKT 438
November, 22, 2004

This year’s flu season is supposed to bring a strain of the virus with a severity unlike any other seen in previous years. This supposed new strain is a mutated, currently untreatable strain that is expected to be responsible for several deaths. The media has caused such a wide spread panic over the Influenza bug this year and then claimed that 48 million vaccines mysteriously became contaminated rendering the public virtually helpless against the attack of this new strain of flu. This paper will discuss the strategies used by public relations representatives to calm the public as well as educate them by giving alternative ways to reduce the spread of catching this year’s most infamous bug.


Internal PR Action Plan
Each year, the public is forewarned of the upcoming, potentially lethal, flu season. Along with the public warnings come the recommendations from the public health department identifying which groups of people including all small children, the elderly, and those with possibly weakened immune systems that are most at risk. There has been a growing concern that there would come a time that the supply of vaccine could not meet the demands of the population. However, no one thought that this shortage would come so suddenly, without fair warning, and would affect such high numbers of people. In fact, the current story is that approximately half of the total supply of the vaccine, roughly 48 million doses, were contaminated and therefore rendered useless. To compound the problem, this also means that 48 million people are being forced to play Russian Roulette with an invisible enemy. Many cases of the flu can be avoided through the quick release of information concerning the impending dilemma that we face as a nation, educating the public, and by communicating an effective internal public relations action plan.      
Public Dilemma     
America used to have five manufacturers that developed the flu vaccines that were used to vaccinate the entire nation. However, over the past few years, those five suppliers have diminished to only two suppliers, Chiron Corporation and Aventis Pasteur. Lester Crawford, acting commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, stated that he was fearful that the remaining two companies would ultimately become one, producing the vaccines for all of America. (www.home.frontiernet.net).
Following the confirmation that the 48 million doses of flu vaccine supplied by Chiron Corporation were actually contaminated, Chiron Corporation was shut down in Liverpool leaving America with half of the supply and little time to act or create a workable contingency plan. Mr. Crawford’s predictions have become a frightening reality. America, although still considered to be a dominating world power, and still...

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