This Week in Swine Flu: Vaccine Coming Soon, But What Do Parents Think?

By Eliza Strickland | September 25, 2009 3:26 pm

swine-flu-newsNow that the first vaccines against swine flu are about to become available, scientists are busy working out the details of how the vaccines can best be administered. Researchers already knew that a single dose was sufficient to protect adults, and they’ve now found that one shot works for teenagers and children over the age of 10. But young children who have never had the flu or a flu shot, however, need two doses, they said…. Children 6 months to 9 years old received some protection from one shot, but not enough, so health officials will recommend that they get two shots 21 days apart [The New York Times].

At least 6 million doses of vaccine will be available the first week of October, federal health officials announced today, and this first batch is in the form of a nasal spray called FluMist. The intranasal vaccine has not been approved for children younger than 2, adults older than 49 or pregnant women, so it may go primarily to healthcare providers [Los Angeles Times]. Injectable vaccines should make it to doctors’ offices a week or two later.

New York State has taken the drastic step of requiring that all hospital, home health and hospice workers get the swine flu vaccine. Experts say the mandatory vaccination will protect not just the workers, but also their patients. But some workers are upset by the edict. Health workers’ union official Joel Shufro says the unions do not oppose vaccination “but we oppose a mandatory program,” he said. “This is: ‘You don’t get the shot, you’re fired’” [The New York Times].

Despite public health officials’ campaign to educate the public about swine flu and the benefits of the vaccines, a new poll of 1,678 U.S. parents found that only 40 percent would get their children immunized. About half of the parents who said they’d pass on the H1N1 flu shot for their kids expressed concern about possible side effects of the vaccine [Los Angeles Times]. Other parents said that they don’t think swine flu is a serious illness, or said that they don’t expect their children to catch the virus. These findings may pose a problem for health officials, who say schoolchildren are extremely likely to spread swine flu.

Even though vaccine-makers are turning out as many doses as they can, the World Health Organization said Thursday that there won’t be enough vaccine for the whole world, since pharmaceutical companies worldwide can only produce 3 billion doses per year. The WHO is concerned that poorer countries may not receive as much vaccine as they need, since those countries will depend largely on donations. Most rich nations have contracts with drug makers to obtain enough vaccine to cover their entire populations, it said…. The WHO said it would begin an initial distribution of some 300 million doses of vaccine donated by rich nations to more than 90 developing countries from November [Reuters].

Related Content:
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Vaccines Approved!, Masks vs. Hand-Washing
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Good News on Vaccines, Bad News in China
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Elmo, Mobile Apps, & Back-to-School Fears
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: How Many Deaths, Vaccine in Sight & Tough Oldsters

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
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