Baltimore City Health Department will distribute flu shots later than planned after “significant delays” in procurement

The Baltimore City Health Department won’t start administering flu shots on schedule after “significant delays” in the city’s procurement of doses.

In an appearance Wednesday before the Board of Estimates, Rebecca Dineen, the city health department’s assistant commissioner for maternal and child health, said the city “urgently” needs to purchase 1,000 high dose vaccines and 3,000 regular dose vaccines for older adults and vulnerable populations in the city.

The city’s clinics should have started distributing the vaccine this week, Dineen said. The five-member spending board unanimously approved the purchase as a “walk-on” item Wednesday, a status reserved for only the most urgent needs.

”Our quotes were received and submitted in June from the only approved vendor and had significant delays in procurement,” Dineen told the board.

The board agreed to pay $500,000 to the Pennsylvania pharmaceutical company R&S Northeast LLC for the doses, Baltimore City Health Department spokesman Yianni Varonis said in an email.

The Morning Sun


Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the

“The next step is for Bureau of Procurement to make the purchase and then we can get an estimated timeline from the vendor for shipment,” he wrote.

Mayor Brandon Scott said after the meeting that delays like the one with the flu vaccinations were a “big frustration.” He said the city has hired a new procurement director who he hopes can “make sure things like that don’t happen.”

Scott has pledged to reform the city’s procurement system since taking office in December 2020. A consulting firm hired to analyze the city system was due to complete its work in December, but the results of the analysis has yet to be made public. Scott said Wednesday there will likely need to be changes to city laws and the charter to enact reform. Charter changes typically require a ballot question to be put to voters.

”When we are able to talk about what the studies say about the system writ large, I can’t wait for us to share that work publicly,” Scott said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that most people get vaccinated against the flu in September and October, before the virus begins to spread in their communities. Last year’s flu season started earlier than usual and peaked more quickly, with hospitalizations hitting close to 600 at the start of December, then falling rapidly. During the 2019-20 flu season, hospitalizations peaked at 380 in February.

While seasonal influenza trends have been hard to predict since the start of the pandemic, all signs are pointing to a more normal respiratory virus season this year, experts told The Baltimore Sun in August. Still, they advised people to get a flu shot and vaccinate their kids.

All city residents are eligible to receive their seasonal shot at health department clinics. Last flu season, about 36% of Marylanders and 34% of Baltimoreans got vaccinated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content