October 27, 2009

Officials Promise H1N1 Vaccines For All

On Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured that, despite delays, there would eventually be enough swine flu vaccine for everyone.

"The vaccine is coming out the door as fast as it comes off the production line," she promised, while acknowledging the difficulty in making the supply meet the demand.

"We were relying on the manufacturers to give us their numbers and as soon as we got numbers we put them out to the public. It does appear now that those numbers were overly rosy," Sebelius said in one interview.

"We do have a vaccine that works," she emphasized.
According to Sebelius, the immune response is speedier than officials had originally thought, reported the Associated Press.

During an appearance Monday morning on nationally broadcast news shows, she indicated that officials now have about 16.5 million doses of the vaccine, which she admitted is millions of doses less than what is needed.

Sebelius said she could not make a prediction as to how widespread the virus will be, but it has already caused about a thousand deaths in the U.S. so far.

Despite the death toll hitting one thousand, she said officials have yet to see due cause for school closures or the cessation of other regular activity.

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama declared a health emergency to provide hospitals and health professionals with greater latitude in terms of federal regulations to respond to the illness.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also said on Sunday that Congress would gladly give additional support and funding on a bipartisan basis, if necessary.

Sebelius said, "If we had found the virus a little earlier we could have started a little earlier."

She advised those who have been waiting in line in vain for the vaccine to return for their shot.

"I hope that people aren't discouraged," she said. "I know it's frustrating to wait in line and particularly if you end up with no vaccine. We wish this could have been smoother, that we had a larger supply. We knew it would come in waves."

Waiting to get vaccinated a few months from now when vaccine supplies are more abundant will not be too late, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is in charge of the Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It wouldn't be too late," she said. "We don't know how long this increase will go on. ... We might see another wave after the first of the year. I think it's important for people to take steps to protect themselves."


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