As Sickness Spreads, H1N1 Flu Vaccine In Short Supply
As numbers of those affected by the H1N1 flu grow, and President Obama has declared the H1N1 flu a national emergency, the amount of H1N1 vaccine available has fallen short of the millions of doses needed for high-risk portions of the population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5,000 people worldwide have died from the H1N1 flu, 1,000 of them in the United States. As of Friday, 16.5 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered, which falls significantly short of the 40 million initially planned to hit cities across the country by mid-October.
The problem seems to be the time required for the vaccine to grow in egg cultures, which can't be rushed. The H1N1 virus is growing slower than anticipated and manufacturers have to just wait out the process.
There are also concerns that the vaccine will arrive after the greatest need has peaked; medical professionals have said that a third wave could easily hit the country around the holidays in late December - early January. If people receive the vaccine before that time, the flu would have a minimal impact.
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department received 300,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine recently, with two-thirds of that going to private providers, such as doctors' offices and drug stores and the remaining third allocated to free clinics.
No clinics are currently scheduled in the Santa Clarita Valley due to the vaccine shortage. According to the county's public health webpage, pharmacies at Target, Walgreens, CVS, WalMart and Rite-Aid drug stores have both the seasonal vaccine and limited amounts of the H1N1 vaccine available.
College of the Canyons is conducting a free seasonal flu shot drive-through clinic from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, October 30. Vaccines will be administered until supply is exhausted . No H1N1 vaccines will be given.
Groups at risk have a priority to receive the vaccine; pregnant women, children 6 months old to up to 24 years old, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes, those who care for infants and children and health caregivers.
Obama's emergency declaration allows hospitals and municipalities to activate emergency plans and set up alternate sites for treatment and triage for patients with flu symptoms. It is similar to the governing body of a region declaring a state of emergency after a disaster such as fire, flood or earthquake, it frees up relief funding and FEMA resources.