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Swine Flu Vaccine Still in Short Supply
Date:10/23/2009

Goal of 40 million doses by end of October won't be met, CDC says

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Production delays continue to hamper distribution of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, a leading U.S. health official said Friday.

The vaccine is growing more slowly in egg-based cultures than manufacturers had anticipated, resulting in fewer available doses at this time, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference.

As of Friday, there were 16.1 million doses on hand nationwide, up from 14.1 on Wednesday, Frieden said. And there will be far fewer than the 40 million doses originally planned for the end of October, he added.

"Vaccine availability is increasing steadily, but far too slowly," Frieden said. "It's frustrating to all of us. We are nowhere near where we thought we would be by now. We are not near where the vaccine manufacturers predicted we would be."

The vaccine that is available comes in both nasal mist and injectable forms. The first doses were only the nasal spray, called FluMist, designed for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age. But now, more than half the doses are injectable, he said.

The H1N1 swine flu continues to produce mild-to-moderate disease in most people, Freiden said. The flu is now widespread in 46 states, he said, adding, "We have already had millions of cases of pandemic influenza in the United States and the numbers continue to increase."

There have been 1,000 laboratory-confirmed deaths due to swine flu since April, according to the CDC.

While children continue to be particularly vulnerable to the disease, Freiden said, "we are seeing it increasingly affect young adults as well as children. We are still not seeing significant numbers of cases among the elderly and that's characteristic of this virus."

That's also a marked difference from run-of-the-mill seasonal flu,
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