CDC: Producers cause H1N1 vaccine shortage

October 22, 2009 5:32:43 AM PDT
Plenty of people want the swine flu vaccine, but many people cannot find it, including residents of Houston.When information comes from other states about free vaccine clinics or clinics specifically for the H1N1 shot, some residents feel that Texas is being shortchanged on the number of doses.

The shortage of vaccines has become a cause of concern for many Houstonians, but health leaders at the state and federal level say it's the manufacturer's problem.

"We are very frustrated and it's just killing us to say no to the public," said Kathy Barton with the Houston Health Department.

But the City Health Department isn't the only place without enough doses of the vaccine. Doctors offices across the city are going without, too, leaving many patients frustrated.

A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an email saying that it's a manufacturer's problem. It added that the yield of the H1N1 vaccine was smaller than they thought, and they had to produce the regular seasonal flu vaccine as well.

In the first official week of flu season -- Oct. 4 through Oct. 10 -- state officials said there were 1,029 confirmed cases of the flu, 99.6 percent of which came back as Influenza A. Of those cases tested for flu subtypes, 230 reports of the H1N1 flu were returned.

Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, said Texas is getting doses of the vaccine -- slowly.

"As of last week, Texas had been allocated by the CDC 960,400 doses of the H1N1 vaccine," he said. "A lot of those doses have been shipped, and some are in the process of being shipped."

Health authorities admit that it's not enough, and when questioned about why doctors in other states have the vaccine and are able to give patients the shot, the CDC said the states get orders from providers which they then provide to the CDC. They then provide that list to the manufacturer.

"The process for allocating by population is not changing," the email said.

The CDC said the state is responsible for determining which providers receive the vaccine and when they will get it. State health officials said they are trying to be geographically fair in their distribution of the shot.

Officials at Texas Children's Hospital said that they do have both the nasal and injectable form of the vaccine.

Don't forget to log onto abc13.com tonight to get your questions about the H1N1 virus answered.

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