H1N1 flu shot availability growing

The supply of vaccine against the novel influenza A H1N1 virus is slowly but progressively growing, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. Some private providers in the Augusta area are also getting vaccine in but the East Central Health District has not received word of any additional shipments, a public health official said.

So far, there have been 38 million doses produced and another 8 million is expected perhaps next week, said Anne Schuchat, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“The pace of our progress is picking up,” she said, noting that the supply has doubled in two weeks. However, Dr. Schuchat added, the number of doses is nowhere close to meeting the demand.

“We still don’t have enough vaccine,” she said. Doses are being shipped out as quickly as they can be produced and the numbers fluctuate - 10 million doses two weeks ago, 11 million this week, and possibly 8 million the following week, she said. But Dr. Schuchat cautioned against reading anything into the ebb and flow of doses.

All but two states are reporting the highest level of flu activity - widespread - including now South Carolina, which had been at the next lowest or regional activity level previously. The state had 64 hospitalizations, down from 95 the previous week, and four deaths, the same as the week before, according to the weekly report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. There were 24 people hospitalized in Georgia and one died, for a total of 34 deaths so far from the new virus, according to the Georgia Division of Public Health. The number of hospitalizations in Georgia has declined from a high of 81 in late September and illness appears to be waning in some Southeastern states but Dr. Schuchat cautioned against thinking the worst might be over. She notes during a flu pandemic in 1957 that there was widespread illness in the fall that seemed to peter out by the end of the year only to coming roaring back in the new year.

“We are very mindful that there’s a long flu season ahead and we are going to be attentive to the needs of the population, the efforts to try to protect people going forward,” Dr. Schuchat said.

While East Central Health District did not receive a new shipment of vaccine this week, some private provider might have, and patients might want to touch base with their providers, said Child Health and Immunization Coordinator Melba McNorrill said. While she has not been promised anything, “hopefully we’ll get a shipment next week,” she said.

More

Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

... Read more