The government has said a trickle of vaccine
will be available in early October, but on
Friday they defined the size of that trickle --
an estimated 3.4 million doses.
looks like all of them will be a nasal spray
vaccine that is approved only for healthy people
ages 2 to 49, said Dr. Jay Butler, an official
with the Centers for Disease Control and
The nasal spray, called FluMist, is not
recommended for some of the people most in
danger of severe swine flu complications. That
includes pregnant women, children younger than
2, and people with asthma and other chronic
However, it's possible that some vaccine
shots will become available by the first week of
October as well, said Butler, chief of the CDC's
swine flu vaccine task force.
Flu shots are made of killed influenza virus,
while FluMist is a live but weakened strain. The
nasal spray is only approved in the United
States, and is made by the Maryland-based
MedImmune, an AstraZeneca PLC subsidiary. Four
other companies are making flu shots for the
The initial vaccine doses will go to up to
90,000 sites, including schools and clinics,
across the U.S. State health departments will
determine which offices and clinics get the
shots, and whether health care workers or others
get the first doses, Butler said at a CDC press
The government has ordered 195 million doses
and may order more if there's enough demand.
Butler said it's good news that the flow of
vaccines will start soon.
"When we open the faucet, there won't be a
puff of smoke. There will be vaccine," he said.
FluMist was designed with kids in mind, and
the company's research suggests it is more
effective in youngsters than a shot in the arm
against seasonal flu.
Studies in adults have found that shots are
more effective. Some researchers think that's
because adults have had longer exposure to flu
viruses and flu vaccines and their immune
systems don't respond as dramatically to the
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Dr. Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of the CDC's influenza
division, said there's not that much difference in effectiveness
between age groups. "Either is better than nothing," he added.
One dose of vaccine should be enough for adults and older
children, whether it's a shot or a spray. However, two doses
probably will be needed for children younger than 10, CDC officials
Typically fewer than 100 million Americans get a flu vaccine
every year, and it's unclear whether swine flu will prompt more
demand. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found 57 percent of
people said they were likely to get it.
Twenty-one states are now reporting widespread cases of swine
flu, CDC officials said Friday.
The CDC says swine flu hasn't proven to be more dangerous than
seasonal so far, but it tends hit to younger people harder than
Because seasonal flu causes an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations
and 36,000 deaths, that's still a serious health threat, officials
[Associated Press; By MIKE STOBBE]
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