KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CDC: H1N1 Vaccine Supplies On The Rise

"More than 22 million doses of swine flu vaccine are available now, and most Americans should soon find it easier to get their dose, U.S. health officials said Tuesday, " according to The Associated Press/The Washington Post.  "Last week there were just 14 million doses on hand, despite initial predictions that as many as 120 million would be ready by mid-October" an estimate the government was forced to reduce to 45 million, after manufacturing snags delayed vaccine output. "The slow supply trickle has frustrated Americans, who have stood in line for hours in some parts of the country" (Stobbe, 10/27).

In related news, "Two top senators overseeing the national response to the swine flu are sharply questioning the government's handling of the vaccination program, in one of the first indications that it could become a political issue for the Obama administration," The Wall Street Journal reports. "In a letter sent Tuesday to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I., Conn.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) praised the government's initial steps on the H1N1 swine flu, but said they now have 'strong concerns' about the fallout from faulty estimates for how much vaccine would be available," according to the newspaper. "Unfortunately, these missteps in estimating available doses of H1N1 vaccine have effects beyond just growing public frustration; they have the potential to critically undermine our vaccine distribution efforts, which depend on accurate estimates of vaccine availability," the senators wrote. The letter requests that Sebelius "answer 13 questions, including when HHS knew that vaccine supplies would fall short of its projections, and why officials didn't narrow their list of target recipients to make sure those at highest risk got the limited supplies first" (McKay and Simpson, 10/28).

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