22 million doses out now, and shortage should ease over coming weeks, CDC says
TUESDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The H1N1 swine flu is spreading throughout the United States and vaccine remains in short supply, but federal health officials said Tuesday that more than 22 million doses are now available, with more expected in coming weeks.
"This is a challenging time," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press conference Tuesday. "We wish we had more vaccine available."
Frieden noted that they had anticipated having significantly more vaccine available by now, but "we are beginning to see significant increases in vaccine production, vaccine distribution and we do think it will get easier to find vaccine in the weeks that come," he said.
As of today, there are a total of 22.4 million doses available, an increase of 8 million doses since last week, Frieden said.
He would not say how much vaccine would be available by month's end. Earlier this year, the CDC said it expected to have as many as 40 million doses available by the end of October, but the agency later downsized that estimate to between 28 million and 30 million doses. At Tuesday's press conference, Frieden would only say that, "by Friday we will let you know what was achieved by Friday."
According to the CDC, H1N1 flu is now widespread in 46 states, with more than 1,000 related deaths reported since the strain emerged in April.
The H1N1 vaccine that is now available comes in the form of either a nasal mist or a standard injection. The first doses to reach high-risk Americans came only in the nasal spray form, called FluMist, designed for healthy people between 2 and 49 years of age. Now, more than half the doses are injectable, Frieden said.
The current H1N1 vaccine is being produced by the traditional method of growing the virus in eggs. And although
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