United discontinues free flu vaccine delivery to Pacific

United Airlines has discontinued the service of shipping free flu vaccines to the Pacific Islands, the company said.

Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) relayed this to its members, including the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. (CHC).

PIHOA provides a regional voice for the six US-associated Pacific islands in their development of sustainable and effective health systems. The association works to strengthen cross-cutting public health infrastructure in the Pacific islands, with priority initiatives that address health workforce development, quality assurance, health data systems, public health planning and public health laboratories.

United Airlines said it has stopped the annual practice, started by Continental Airlines, of providing free shipping to PIHOA member states of excess US DOD influenza vaccines.

The defense department works with the public health department from Guam, healthcare corporation in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), health departments from Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and American Samoa to identify whether or not they would benefit from additional flu vaccines. The Center for Disease and Control sends vaccines to these islands each year and each year most of the islands are still short.