Give Thanks for Good Health and to Those Who Made It Possible
Nov 24, 2009

By Amy Pisani
I recently sent a very brief word of praise to a few colleagues down at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) for all that they have done to ensure that my two children were able to receive their vaccines against both seasonal and H1N1 pandemic influenza.  One of those colleagues replied that I had no idea how much she needed to receive my email, today of all days. 
This really got me thinking about all those who have toiled so tirelessly to help keep millions of people healthy and disease-free.  As of last week 49.9 million doses of vaccine against H1N1 have been made available and shipments of both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine are increasing daily.  A quick perusal of the CDC’s website is enough to make your head spin. They provide information on a whole host of issues such as the tracking of vaccines shipments, the ongoing safety surveillance, provider and public education, funding allocations, and negotiations to reduce cost as a barrier and ensure provider reimbursement by health plans, etc.  As if that weren’t enough, the CDC must also address its various stakeholders including parents, health care providers, adults, immune-compromised people, and everyone in between.  They must explain to the panicking public why there may have been a delay in their shipment of flu vaccine, where they can go to find a vaccine in their community, and why they must wait until a certain time every year before they can ship the vaccine.  I don’t envy their task list! 
Health officials are also responsible for reporting on the many casualties of this flu season, including heartbreaking statistics such as this one – “Government health officials say H1N1 flu has sickened about 22 million Americans since April – about 4,000 have died, including 540 kids.”
On Thanksgiving Day I will say my thanks aloud to the researchers who invent vaccines, the manufacturers that create those vaccines, the distributors who arrange the shipments, the state and local program staff who toil to ensure that those in greatest need have priority access to the vaccines, the private physician offices who take the calls and schedule the appointments again and again for their patients as supplies arrive, and to all the volunteers whose contributions are often unseen. 
Most of all I give thanks to the staff at CDC and health departments who have given up months and months of precious time with their children and loved ones in order to ensure that we Americans are able to protect ourselves and our families against this terrible disease. 
To all of those in public health who toil day in and day out to keep me and my family healthy – I wish you a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving.

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