Oct 27, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The pandemic H1N1 vaccine supply is increasing significantly, and over the next 2 weeks Americans will have an easier time finding and receiving the doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today.
At a media briefing today, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, said 22.4 million doses are available to ship to states now, which is 8 million doses more than the 14 million available a week ago. "We wish we had more vaccine now, but we're beginning to get a significant increase in availability," he said.
Though polling shows many Americans are ambivalent about getting the vaccine, people have faced long lines to receive doses for themselves or their children, and some providers have had to turn people away. For example, yesterday officials in Jackson Township, N.J., turned away 1,000 people from a vaccine clinic after the facility exhausted its 1,500 doses, according to a report from the Associated Press.
As states wait for more doses, flu activity is still widespread throughout the United States, Frieden said. Flu cases have decreased in some areas, such as Georgia, but are increasing in a patchwork pattern of focal points—typical for influenza—throughout the country, he reported.
Though Frieden said federal health officials are frustrated by the slow trickle of vaccine coming out, they are pleased by other aspects of the vaccine. The vaccine closely matches the circulating H1N1 virus and is likely to be very effective, he said. He added that federal officials have high levels of confidence in the vaccine's safety because it is produced by the same manufacturers using the same methods as the seasonal flu vaccine, which has an excellent safety record.
The CDC is observing the different ways states are distributing their vaccine doses and is working to identify best practices to ensure that available vaccine is given to priority groups as soon as possible, Frieden said.
He added that school-based immunization clinics are likely to be one of the most efficient distribution methods, and he lauded districts that are distributing vaccination consent forms ahead of time. He urged state and local officials to make it as easy as possible for people to receive the vaccine.