Tell patients who are clamoring for the H1N1 influenza vaccine that more doses will soon be available. At a recent press conference, Thomas Frieden, MD, Director of the CDC, had this message for health care providers: “Don’t reserve available vaccine; give it out as soon as it comes in, because more is on the way.”
As of this week, 22.4 million doses are available for shipment to providers, said Dr Frieden. “We’re working closely with the states to ensure that vaccine, once it becomes available, can be delivered overnight directly to the provider.”
Dr Frieden emphasized the goal in the next few weeks is to ensure that as many persons as possible in high-priority groups receive the vaccine. Such persons include pregnant women, caretakers or household contacts of infants under the age of 6 months, health care workers, persons aged 6 months to 24 years, and anyone who has underlying medical conditions (eg, asthma) that make them susceptible to influenza-related complications.
“It’s quite likely that too little vaccine is one of the things that’s making people more interested in getting vaccinated,” said Dr Frieden. “Where we have shortages, we see an increase in demand. It is likely also as we produce more vaccine and as both people are given the opportunity to get vaccinated, and as disease maybe wanes in the future, we will have significant amounts of vaccine that can’t be used.”
Dr Frieden said that the challenge is to provide the H1N1 vaccine to health care providers, schools, and other distribution sites as rapidly as possible so that as much of the available vaccine as possible can be used.