Swine Flu Vaccine Arriving -- Slowly
CDC: Within 2 Weeks, H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine 'Will Seem' Easier to Get
Oct. 27, 2009 - The trickle of H1N1 swine flu vaccine should become a steady
flow in "a couple of weeks," CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said
In late August, federal officials were confident that they'd have some 85
million doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine by Halloween. Today, with pumpkins
already on front porches and only four days until trick-or-treat time, the
count stands at just 22.4 million doses.
It's still quite an accomplishment to have created, manufactured, tested,
and delivered tens of millions of doses of vaccine in the mere six months since
the swine flu virus was discovered. But those earlier over-optimistic
predictions and the current nationwide wave of H1N1 swine flu make it seem like
too little too late.
"Significantly more vaccine is becoming available. ... In most states, within
the next couple of weeks, [the vaccine] will seem to be much more widespread
and it will seem much easier than it is now to get vaccinated," Frieden said at
a news conference.
A cumulative 22.4 million doses is nothing to sneeze at. It's a remarkable
success that began in 2004 when the U.S. decided to ensure a yearlong supply of
the hens' eggs in which the vaccine is made, and which continued this spring
when the U.S. signed contracts to ensure a huge supply of vaccine.
True, the vaccine is arriving too late to blunt this wave of the flu. But
it's not too late for the majority of people who have remained well, even those
in areas now seeing the first wave of the flu subside.
"Decreases are quite focal. Different parts of a state, different parts of a
city are seeing the [H1N1 swine flu] spread at different times," Frieden said.
"Influenza tends to be patchy. That's important because it means that although
many people have had H1N1 influenza -- and we wish there had been vaccine for
them earlier -- there are still many people at risk. It certainly is not too
late to get vaccinated when vaccine becomes available."
Frieden noted the ironic fact that the initial scarcity of H1N1 swine flu
vaccine has driven up demand. Eventually, well before the end of the year,
there will be enough of the vaccine for every U.S. resident who wants it. When
that finally happens, the question is whether people will still be lining up to