Objective: To understand immunization programs' experience managing the 2007 to 2009 Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine shortage and identify ways in which the US immunization system can be improved to assist in responses to future shortages of routine vaccines and large-scale public health emergencies.
Methods: An Internet-based survey was conducted from July 2009 to October 2009 among the 64 city, state, and territorial immunization program managers (IPMs).
Results: Fifty-eight percent (37 of the 64) of IPMs responded. Forty percent of responding IPMs indicated not having enough Hib vaccine within their Vaccines for Children program to fulfill the temporary 3-dose recommendation issued in December 2007 in response to the Hib vaccine shortage. While 73% of IPMs indicated success in monitoring provider inventory and 68% indicated success in monitoring doses administered during the shortage, fewer than half indicated success in monitoring providers' compliance with shortage-specific recommendations regarding Hib vaccine. Forty-six percent of IPMs used their immunization information system (IIS) to monitor provider compliance with recommendations regarding Hib vaccine use, and of these, nearly 60% reported success in monitoring provider compliance with recommendations compared with 35% of IPMs who did not use their IIS in this way. Forty-two percent of IPMs felt that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was successful in determining stockpiled vaccine allocations to their program, and 56% felt that the CDC was successful in communicating its rationale for their immunization program's Hib allocation during the shortage.
Conclusions: Experiences from the 2007 to 2009 Hib vaccine shortage offer insights on how the US immunization system and system-wide response to vaccine shortages can be improved. Results from this survey suggest that improving vaccine transfer between jurisdictions and using IIS to track provider compliance with shortage recommendations are 2 ways that can help the US immunization system respond to future vaccine shortages and large-scale public health emergencies like influenza pandemics.