Canadians and Americans Are Frustrated because of Vaccine Shortage

In Canada thousands of people across the country lined up to get swine flu shots. Meanwhile, Thursday Canadian officials warned that vaccines for the H1N1 flu would likely be in short supply.

Within about half an hour of clinics opening for high-risk patients in Toronto, officials started turning people away and warning those in line that they might have to wait six or seven hours.

Later in the day, Health Canada said vaccine supplies would get even tighter next week.

Shipments to the provinces and territories would slow because the supplier, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L), had temporarily shifted production to a type of vaccine recommended for pregnant women, the federal government agency said in a statement, Reuters reports.

In the meantime, in the United States the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its most specific calculation to date, estimated Thursday that the number of Americans who came down with the H1N1 virus in the first wave of the disease (April to July) could have been as high as 5.7 million. Swine flu is widespread in every state but Connecticut, New Jersey, South Carolina, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

As a result, schools are questioning perfect attendance awards, employers are looking twice at sick-day limits, and airlines are encouraging the ticketed ill to stay on the ground.

Everywhere, the cry is the same: Wash your hands. Cover your mouth. Use your sleeve. On the street, the handshake is being supplanted by the fist dap and the elbow bump.

At the doctor's office, the competition for an appointment and a vaccination is intense.

"I've never seen it like this. ... That name, H1N1, sends parents into a panic," says Angela Gordon, administrator at Dunwoody Pediatrics in suburban Atlanta. "We've had a lot of verbal abuse," USA Today reports.

It was also reported, many Americans are frustrated because their private doctors have no vaccine and local public health clinics have canceled vaccination days because of the shortages.

Also, many parents of children who have the flu are similarly frustrated because they cannot find the antiviral Tamiflu in pediatric doses, and especially in liquid forms.

Dr. Schuchat said those shortages appeared to be local and spotty. About 300,000 courses of liquid Tamiflu were sent from the national stockpile to the states on Oct. 1 in anticipation of shortages, she said. Her agency is trying to help states move them to where they are needed.

Dr. Schuchat reassured parents who had been given children’s Tamiflu capsules that they could safely open them and mix the powder with chocolate syrup. And, she said, some pharmacy chains were opening adult capsules and mixing them with sweet syrup to make pediatric doses. She warned parents not to try doing that themselves, for fear of miscalculating and giving a child too much or too little, The New York Times reports.

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