WASHINGTON – Just days after it was revealed that anyone with a U.S. Capitol credential could get a flu shot (search) there, congressional leaders announced 3,000 doses of the hard to find vaccine were being donated to the District of Columbia.
"This is the right thing to do," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search) said in a statement released Friday.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., sent a letter earlier this week to the Capitol's attending physician, urging him to turn over excess vaccine supply to the city that is home to the federal government.
The vaccine was being given to the D.C. Department of Health and the D.C. Hospital Association, which represents 18 hospitals.
The city's health department last week issued an emergency rule requiring health care providers to give flu shots only to those needing it most. Caregivers who violate the order can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000.
Frist's office had been turned into a makeshift clinic where shots were administered two days after federal health officials asked anyone not in a high-risk group to do without. Frist had said the lawmakers who rolled up their sleeves were doing so based on either federal guidelines or the recommendations of their own doctors.
Officials said about 9,000 flu shots were administered last year to lawmakers, their staffs and others employed on Capitol Hill. That number dropped to about 2,500 this year, after contamination at a British plant of Chiron (search) cost the U.S. about half of its vaccine supply.