H1N1 Vaccine Shortage Is Expected as Swine Flu Continues to Spread

Children received swine flu vaccine for the first time on Tuesday. Meanwhile, federal health officials deny popular myths about the pandemic and the vaccine made to stop it.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieaden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an afternoon news conference that the most common misperceptions are that this flu should ever be called a “mild disease,” that the vaccine is untested and that it has arrived too late.

Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s new health commissioner, said he expected a vaccine shortage until the end of the month, when a batch of 1.2 million is scheduled to arrive.

Flu is widespread across the country and some hospitals are getting so many emergency room visits that they have set up triage tents, but Dr. Frieden said one problem that planners had feared has yet to emerge: no intensive care units have had more patients than ventilators — something that did happen in one Canadian province last spring, The New York Times reports.

In the meantime, Tuesday night thousands of doses of swine flu vaccine began to arrive in the Washington region as a private high school in Laurel became the first in the area to close for disinfection after more than 100 students missed class, many with complaints of illness.

Stephen J. Edmonds, principal and president of St. Vincent Pallotti High School, said there had been five confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza, known as swine flu, among students at the school since the beginning of the school year. Edmonds said about 100 of the school's 500 students missed class Tuesday "for various reasons," including swine flu and seasonal flu.

Because of the high absentee rate, Edmonds ordered the school closed Wednesday to allow professional cleaners to disinfect surfaces touched by students.

"It's just precautionary," Edmonds said. "We want to make sure we provide the safest environment for the students," The Washington Post reports.

It was also reported, the Polk County Health Department has announced it is canceling its community flu and pneumonia clinics because of a lack of vaccine.
Thirty-one community clinics had been scheduled for a two-week period beginning Wednesday through Oct. 25.

Polk County Health Department director Terri Henkels says the county has less than 1,000 doses of the flu shots left. She said the shots will be given on a walk-in basis at the department's Carpenter Avenue clinic.

Henkels says her department has more vaccine on order, but the shipment has been delayed until early or mid-November. She adds the department may not get its entire order, Chicago Tribune reports.

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