Trying to allay concerns expressed by members of Congress and by drug company executives, a Clinton Administration official said today that the Government would not waste money or vaccine in a new program to inoculate millions of children from low-income families.
Drug company executives and some lawmakers have criticized the Administration's plan, saying the Government was trying to buy far more vaccine than would be needed to immunize children eligible for the free shots under the program. ... Congress has set aside $460 million for the project this year.
The Administration plans to store much of the vaccine at a Federal warehouse in Burlington, NJ. She said the Government would manage distribution of the vaccine under a contract with Federal Express of Memphis, TN.
Dr. R. Gordon Douglas, Jr., president of the vaccine division of Merck & Company, said, "A federally operated megawarehouse for storage and shipping of up to 80 percent of this nation's pediatric vaccines is a public health crisis in the making."
At a congressional hearing on May 18, Senator Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas, said he doubted that the warehouse would be ready to ship vaccines by Oct. 1, when the program is supposed to begin.
"GSA's track record has been an unmitigated disaster as long as I can remember," the senator said, "I don't have very much confidence in GSA."