About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Private providers have been busy

VaccineBe careful of that new Health Department chart that I linked to and wrote about yesterday. It’s not as useful as I first thought.

Dr. Karen Remley, state health commissioner, introduced the chart Thursday at her weekly press briefing on H1N1, and the Health Department posted it here on its Web site later that day. When I first looked at the chart, I thought, “Wow, private doctors have given out as much, and maybe more, vaccine than local health departments.”

That turns out to be true, but you can’t draw that conclusion from the chart. The chart is missing key bits of information: the number of doses distributed by private providers and the number distributed by public providers. Without the totals, the percentages shown are less useful.

Dr. Diane Helentjaris, who leads the Health Department’s H1N1 effort, said yesterday that she found the chart useful because it illustrates how the public and private sectors have given most of their shots to children, the highest of the high-priority groups. “They’re doing a good job of getting it to the right people,” she said.

Helentjaris also pointed out something that hasn’t been publicized much: that the public and private sectors have distributed almost equal amounts of the 1.2 million doses of the vaccine that have been given to Virginia residents. “People stand as much chance of getting a vaccination from their own family doctor” as a Health Department clinic, she said.