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Why is there a shortage of flu vaccines?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Leave a Comment

Walgreen's doesn't have seasonal flu or swine flu vaccines. Our pediatrician hasn't got the swine flu vaccine yet.

According to the LA Times, it's because production of the vaccine is more complicated than expected.

""Vaccine production is pretty complex, and it is taking a bit longer than we would hope," she said at a news conference Friday.

In particular, growing the virus in eggs has not yielded as much antigen -- the crucial component of the vaccine -- as is normally obtained with the seasonal flu.

Despite the current low production, however, there are no plans to use adjuvants -- chemicals added to increase the immune response to the antigen -- to extend the supply of the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, said Dr. Jesse Goodman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many people who are reluctant to get vaccinated believe, mistakenly, that the adjuvants are toxic.

As of Wednesday, 11.4 million doses of vaccine were available, slightly more than half of that in the injectable form; states had ordered 8 million doses; and nearly 6 million doses had been shipped -- including 836,900 doses to California."

According to Bloomberg, it's because "Fear of pandemic swine flu has heightened public vigilance in the U.S. against seasonal influenza as well, causing vaccine shortages at doctors’ offices, clinics and retail drugstores."

According to NPR, it's because "Americans' supply of flu vaccine was cut nearly in half Tuesday as Britain shut down the world's second-leading supplier. The Chiron Corp. had intended to ship 48 million doses of vaccine to the United States, but regulators suspended the company's license, citing problems at its Liverpool, England, manufacturing plant."

And according to right-wing bloggers, it's because the CDC is in charge of distribution, and they screwed it up, making the argument that universal health care would also be a screwup.

And all of these wildly different reasons makes me wonder where the trustworthy journalists are.