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Swine Flu Vaccine Delay Manageable, Experts Say
Date:8/20/2009

Having 45 million doses by Oct. 15 will still be useful, they stress

THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Health experts do not believe that the delay in receiving swine flu vaccine will thwart the U.S. government's strategy to protect Americans against the newly circulating virus.

But having only 45 million doses on hand by Oct. 15, rather than the originally anticipated 120 million doses, does throw a slight wrench into plans to vaccinate those who might need the shots the most.

"The vaccine undoubtedly will still be useful," said Dr. John Treanor, professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "It may not be as useful than if it were ready in September, but I think it will still be useful."

Added Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City: "The best weapon we have is the vaccine and the sooner it is available, the more useful it will be. If the flu comes later, [the delay] will be less relevant. If the flu comes earlier, it will be more of a problem."

According to federal health authorities, after mid-October, 20 million more doses of the vaccine will be shipped each week.

In a way, the delay is no surprise, given the unpredictability of influenza in general and the elaborate and fragile requirements of the vaccine production process.

"We know that making a flu vaccine is a committed process. There are many steps in that process and all it takes is for something to be a little bit off on one of the steps and you're going to see delays or shortages," Treanor said.

The main problem right now is that manufacturers are simply not getting the yield of vaccine they had expected.

"The delay is being attributed to slower and wimpier growth of the vaccine substrate used to make the vaccine. The amount vaccine manufacturers are getting o
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