A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests in the case of a flu vaccine shortage, giving vaccines to low-income areas first would best prevent the spread of an epidemic.
Pitt Assistant Professor of Medicine Dr. Bruce Lee was the lead author of the study. Lee says the flu usually spreads faster through poorer communities because those areas are often more densely populated. He adds that vaccine is often limited in epidemic situations like the H1N1 virus, and that poor areas are usually not considered first in those situations.
Lee says in a computer simulation of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, depriving low-income populations of vaccines increased the spread of the flu in all areas, no matter how wealthy -- more so than in any other situation.
Lee says the study shows giving the flu vaccine to poor communities first is not just a moral decision -- it has an impact on every part of the population.
The Pitt professor says in terms of a flu epidemic, all populations are interconnected, so it's important for the flu vaccine to be distributed equitably.