O'Malley offers plan to increase flu vaccine supply in state

July 27, 2006|By JOHN FRITZE | JOHN FRITZE,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign released yesterday the framework of a program that he said would expand the state's availability of vaccine.

Under a pilot program, Maryland would purchase leftover flu vaccine from certain doctors, limiting the financial liability physicians face when vaccine goes unused.

Doctors would also coordinate vaccine purchases through the state, he said.

"Vaccines save lives, prevent illness, and protect against natural and man-made outbreaks of lethal disease, yet, sadly, each year too many children and seniors go without vaccines," O'Malley said in a statement.

O'Malley aides could not say how much vaccine would be purchased or how much the program would cost.

His Republican critics, including campaign officials with his opponent, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., have repeatedly questioned how O'Malley will pay for his health care platform.

More vaccine could be distributed, the O'Malley campaign said, if there was better coordination of its distribution.

And if doctors were not worried about paying the cost of leftover vaccine, they would conceivably purchase more, aides said.

In October, O'Malley vowed to spend more than $100,000 on a study to determine whether officials could lure a vaccine production center to Baltimore.

An official with the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, which coordinated the study, said a draft report is complete but that it is not ready for release to the public.

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