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H1N1 vaccine distribution delayed in CA

November 5, 2009 6:38:14 PM PST
State health officials admitted that distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine is about a month behind schedule. But they are not concerned about a mass outbreak.

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Shortages of H1N1 flu vaccine across the country threaten to make California miss its goal of inoculating all high risk groups by the end of the year.

That includes healthcare workers, children, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses. Production has been slower than expected, causing huge delays in shipments to states.

"The CDC expected to provide about 6.25 million doses to Californians by now. We've only been allocated half of that amount," said California State epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez.

At least a couple of dozen public health agencies received significantly less than the amount of vaccines they ordered. The statewide average is just 45 percent.

In the Bay Area, Marin County has received only 31 percent, Santa Clara County received 33 percent, Berkeley received 37 percent and Mateo County got 38 percent.

The state says those areas will be given a priority as more vaccines arrive in California. Another 500,000 doses were ordered just yesterday.

The goal is to eventually give each public health agency the same number of vaccines in proportion to their population.

"Over the next week or so, we now have a process in place by which new vaccine is being allocated to those who received less vaccines in the past. So by about two weeks, we will have parity," said Dr. Chavez.

Until production catches up to demand, some local health workers are struggling with the onslaught of people waiting in line for hours, like people did in Fresno to get the vaccine.

While anxious Californians wait, the virus continues to affect the young disproportionately.

"In the last week alone, the greatest increase in the number of outbreaks reported throughout California came from school outbreaks," said Dr. Chavez.

Given the shortages, New York City health officials are scrambling to explain their actions. Wall Street workers were able to jump ahead of the line in front of children and pregnant women.

Those Wall Street firms have been instructed to vaccinate only those at high risk, just like other clinics around the country.

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