sábado, 31 de outubro de 2009

Sebelius acknowledges vaccine delays.

The Washington Post (10/27, Shear, Stein) reports, "Administration officials sought Monday to explain why so much less H1N1 flu vaccine is available than had been promised, blaming the manufacturers and the vagaries of science for nationwide shortages." In interviews Monday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that officials had been "relying on the manufacturers to give us their numbers, and as soon as we got numbers we put them out to the public. It does appear now that those numbers were overly rosy."

The New York Times (10/27, A19, McNeil) also notes that Sebelius "promised that, despite delays, there would eventually be enough swine flu vaccine for all Americans." She "appeared on three morning television news programs to deliver the assurance."

"Sebelius said she couldn't predict just how widespread the virus will be," the AP (10/27) reports. "But she also said officials do not believe there is yet any cause to close down schools and cease other daily activities." Meanwhile, on CNN Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of the CDC's Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Division, "said it's hard to predict how long the H1N1 wave will continue, so even getting vaccinated a few months from now -- when vaccine supplies are more plentiful -- won't be too late."

Reuters (10/27, Zabarenko) says that Sebelius mentioned the possibility of future H1N1 outbreaks, perhaps this spring, saying that a vaccination now would also likely protect against that wave.

CBS News (10/27, Morgan) notes that Sebelius "acknowledged the frustration of Americans waiting in lines for vaccinations." She said, "I don't want to minimize the anxiety of a lot of parents who want to get their kids vaccinated, but we do have a vaccine that works."

Fauci estimates 150 million vaccine doses delivered by end of year. AFP (10/27) reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the US "will face a swine flu vaccine shortfall of 45 to 55 million doses by the end of the year but half of the population could still be vaccinated." He said, "I don't think we will get to the original goal" -- 195 million H1N1 vaccine doses -- but "the government may obtain 140 to 150 million doses, 'which quite frankly I think will likely be enough because we don't anticipate more than half of the people want to get vaccinated.'"

More pregnant women getting vaccine. The CBS Evening News (10/26, story 8, 3:00, Smith) reported, "Federal health officials admitted today their projected timetable for producing the vaccine was way off. ... Among those being urged to get the vaccine are pregnant women." CBS correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton added, "One hundred pregnant women have been admitted to the ICU across the country with complications of H1N1, 28 have died." She continued, "Traditionally, only about 15% of pregnant women choose to get a regular flu shot and that's because of concerns that they have, understandably so, about putting anything in their body. I am seeing more pregnant patients coming in wanting to be vaccinated against H1N1 and for them...their fear of this virus is greater than any concerns they might have about the vaccine."

FDA seeks to curb untested H1N1 remedies. The Washington Post (10/27, Boodman) reports that the Food and Drug Administration has compiled a list of 140 fraudulent swine-flu-fighting products. Gary Coody, the FDA's national health fraud coordinator, says that manufacturers of such products "are motivated by profit, not concern for public health," and said that health officials were concerned that such remedies could delay consumers from seeking genuine medical attention. As a result, "manufacturers are being told to immediately remove unproven claims or unapproved products from their Websites and to respond to warning letters within 48 hours, instead of the usual 15 working days." To date, "more than 90 percent of manufacturers have complied, removing suspect claims, products or, in some cases, entire websites."

Schools begin limited vaccination efforts. The New York Times (10/27, A29, Hartocollis) reports, "Despite nationwide shortfalls in the supply of swine flu vaccine, New York City's health commissioner said on Monday that the city was going ahead with the first stage of its plan to vaccinate schoolchildren." According to Dr. Thomas A. Farley, school nurses at 125 small public elementary schools will begin receiving nearly 40,000 doses, which "should be adequate" for now. Dr. Farley added that "as of last week, the city had received about 300,000 of the 380,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine it had ordered, which are being distributed to private physicians, hospitals, public clinics and schools." He also said the city was "optimistic" that the vaccine supply would continue to increase.

Hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients may be forced to cancel other services. USA Today (10/27, Sternberg) reports that the "pediatric emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital" in Baltimore is seeing "nearly three times as many kids as usual" per day due to the H1N1 flu. But, physicians "at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere expect the number of patients needing hospitalization and intensive care to rise. Such an influx 'could force some hospitals to cancel services such as elective surgery, they say.'" President Obama's national emergency declaration, "designed to give hospitals the flexibility to move patients to satellite facilities" will free up some room, but the unpredictable nature of influenza "makes planning a challenge."

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