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US now facing no-win fight with swine flu

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Was it inevitable? Was the US headed for a pandemic without being prepared for it? How could they have known it was coming? The H1N1 virus was discovered six months ago, writes Reuters. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made many promises that each and every American would be able to get a vaccine and that 250 million doses were in the process of being made. As of October 28th, Tuesday, only 22.4 million were ready or had been given. It appears as if the US is now facing a no-win fight with the swine flu.

On the positive side, for the discovery of swine flu being only six months ago, health experts are praising the administration of President Barack Obama and how the pandemic situation has been handled. They made sure that antivirals, as well as other supplies, were made available from the Strategic National Stockpile. The National Institutes of Health continued serious research on new antivirals, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention kept the media updated, adding pages on Facebook, Twitter, and videos on YouTube about the swine flu. It appeared as if the fight against the swine flu might be won.

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With the promises of the vaccine for H1N1 being available to everyone came the distressing outcome that very little had actually been released. A former public health official from Minnesota and expert on pandemic preparedness, Mike Osterholm refers to the HHS and says, “ The one thing they have to stop saying is there is a dose for everybody.” He goes on to state that the government should have been preparing much more seriously for this event. It does appear as if the H1N1 pandemic was indeed inevitable.

The H1N1 vaccine was ordered from the following manufacturers: MedImmune, a unit of AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, CSL from Australia, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis. Problems with the vaccine became apparent from the very beginning when the virus would not grow well in the eggs. This is the first step in the process of making the vaccine. If it cannot be completed, it will not be successful.

WebMD reports that the mere scarcity at the present of the swine flu shot drives up the demand for it. However, it is hoped that there will be more than enough by the end of the year. At that time, will it still be in high demand? Will people still be standing in line to get the swine flu shot? Or will the government have an abundant supply left over? Finally, will the shot be out in time?