Production delays have resulted in far fewer doses of the vaccine being available than federal officials had hoped for by this time. The first estimates called for 40 million doses by the end of October and 190 million doses by year's end.
Every day more vaccine is becoming available, however, and officials hope to see an end to the shortage over the next several weeks.
"I appreciate the frustration people are seeing as they are unable to find vaccine," Schuchat said. "Over the next several weeks it should become more easily available and each day we are seeing forward progress."
She also said that supplies of the antiviral drug Tamiflu should be plentiful. While there may be some shortage of the liquid form usually given to children, pharmacists can convert pills into a liquid. Parents too can mix the drug with chocolate syrup to make it more palatable for children who have trouble taking pills, she said.
In related news, Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis AG said on Thursday that it is on schedule to meet its U.S. government contract for H1N1 vaccine, the Associated Press reported.
Fears had circulated in recent weeks that the company might have to delay shipments of the sought-after vaccine, and U.S. officials had announced earlier in October that they had only received 23 million of a predicted 45 million doses by mid-month. However, Novartis remains on target to deliver 25 to 30 million doses of the vaccine to the United States by the end of November, the AP said.
For more information on H1N1 swine flu, visit Flu.gov.
SOURCES: Oct. 29, 2009, teleconference with: Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Oct. 29, 2009, CDC, Emerging Infectious Diseases; A
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