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"We know that our vendor has been approved, and likely will get vaccine," said spokesman Lou Gellos. What remained unclear was whether that company would have enough for all the businesses it serves.
Despite all the uncertainty, about 43 percent of respondents to an ongoing survey by the National Business Group on Health have said they plan to provide swine flu vaccine to employees once the shots are available. Seventy percent said they'll pay the administration fee, even if workers get shots elsewhere. The group's members are mainly Fortune 500 companies and big public-sector employers.
For big corporations with multiple locations, slight variations in the states' rules are creating confusion.
New York plans to limit the vaccine to existing health providers -- and businesses with on-site medical staff.
The Illinois and Chicago health departments, at least initially, are excluding businesses.
"As soon as we can, we'll open up the process to the population at large," said Dr. Craig Conover of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In Florida, individual counties are handling requests, with pediatricians and other doctors with high-risk patients getting preference. Large businesses might get the vaccine -- if they have a medical person on staff, said Steve Huard of the Hillsborough County Health Department in Tampa.
In states including California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas, a business can get the vaccine if it has a doctor, nurse or pharmacist licensed to give vaccines. Some states require those health workers to be company employees. Others will let a business hire a visiting nurses association or commercial company to provide flu shots.
Pennsylvania's health department will decide which businesses get vaccine based on where swine flu becomes most prevalent and how many workers are in priority groups.
In California, businesses will have to request the vaccine from approved health providers.
Laila Santos of Universal Wellness-Immunization Network, which conducts on-site flu clinics for companies in California, has been fielding daily calls from clients wondering when it will be available.
"Businesses are very, very concerned," Santos said. "With the economy, they cannot afford to lose employees and manpower because they're sick."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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