Equalizing access to pandemic influenza vaccines through optimal allocation to public health distribution points.


Vaccines are arguably the most important means of pandemic influenza mitigation. However, as during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, mass immunization with an effective vaccine may not begin until a pandemic is well underway. In the U.S., state-level public health agencies are responsible for quickly and fairly allocating vaccines as they become available to populations prioritized to receive vaccines. Allocation decisions can be ethically and logistically complex, given several vaccine types in limited and uncertain supply and given competing priority groups with distinct risk profiles and vaccine acceptabilities. We introduce a model for optimizing statewide allocation of multiple vaccine types to multiple priority groups, maximizing equal access. We assume a large fraction of available vaccines are distributed to healthcare providers based on their requests, and then optimize county-level allocation of the remaining doses to achieve equity. We have applied the model to the state of Texas, and incorporated it in a Web-based decision-support tool for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Based on vaccine quantities delivered to registered healthcare providers in response to their requests during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we find that a relatively small cache of discretionary doses (DSHS reserved 6.8% in 2009) suffices to achieve equity across all counties in Texas.

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