US expects far fewer swine flu shots in October

Aug 18, 2009 By LAURAN NEERGAARD , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- The U.S. won't have nearly as much swine flu vaccine ready by mid-October as long predicted - 45 million doses instead of the anticipated 120 million, a federal official said Monday.

It's not a shortage but a delay, Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall said. More will arrive rapidly after that, with about 20 million more doses being shipped weekly until the government reaches the full 195 million doses ordered, he said.

But the October shortfall, blamed on manufacturing issues, will extend by a month efforts to get people at highest risk vaccinated against the new flu strain. First in line are supposed to be , children and health care workers, followed by younger adults with flu-risky conditions such as asthma.

Expect vaccination campaigns to start around Oct. 15 anyway, Hall said. They just will have to be smaller in scale than originally planned, as the supply trickles in more slowly.

"Why would we wait? As vaccine comes in, we'll ship it out to the states. We're not going to sit on it," Hall said.

The government had long insisted it was confident in the 120 million dose figure, even in late July as manufacturers from around the world revealed they were having serious problems brewing shots. The chief ingredient is grown in chicken eggs, and companies were getting 30 percent of usual doses per egg as they do with regular winter flu vaccine.

Health officials are working to address that problem by delivering to manufacturers virus strains expected to grow better.

A more recently discovered problem is a bottleneck in getting vaccine from huge vats into the syringes needed to deliver them, because of a limited number of those so-called finish-and-fill facilities, Hall said.

Another delay is in developing the test needed to make sure doses are at the proper strength before they're cleared for use.

The problem is with vaccine, not vaccine against the regular winter flu. Unlike its new cousin, regular flu is riskiest for older adults. Those inoculations already are beginning in parts of the country, and there is ample supply of seasonal vaccine.

As for the swine flu - also known as H1N1 flu, for its viral family - nearly 160 million people are in the groups to get priority for vaccination. But health officials don't expect nearly that much demand, especially since while swine flu can kill, for most people it appears to be a milder disease than regular flu. Traditionally, only about 40 percent of people recommended to get regular do so.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ouch! Early flu shot season comes with 3 jabs

Aug 06, 2009

(AP) -- Get ready to roll up your sleeve three times for flu shots this fall. That's right, three times. This year's flu season is shaping up to be a very different one. Most people will need one shot for the regular seasonal ...

US: 160M doses of swine flu vaccine due in Oct.

Jul 23, 2009

(AP) -- The U.S. expects to have 160 million doses of swine flu vaccine available sometime in October, even though manufacturers worldwide are having serious trouble brewing the shots, federal health officials said Thursday.

US wants ingredient in swine flu vaccine by May

Apr 28, 2009

(AP) -- U.S. scientists hope to have a key ingredient for a swine flu vaccine ready in early May, but tell The Associated Press that the novel virus grows slowly in eggs - the chief way flu vaccines are made.

Swine flu summit: Gov't checks on state readiness

Jul 09, 2009

(AP) -- The Obama administration put the states on notice Thursday: Swine flu vaccinations are likely to be ready this fall with the looming threat of the disease's resurgence, so figure out now how to deliver them.

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

5 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.