Though there are critics that claim the vaccine isn’t safe, it’s manufactured the same way seasonal flu vaccines are, a process that’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and been a standard for over 60 years. It’s also been tested extensively, minimizing side effects and successfully protecting patients from the H1N1 virus. And remember, the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against H1N1.
But supply shortages are preventing many Americans from getting vaccinated. According to a story from the Wall Street Journal, 32.3 million doses are available — far less than the 159 million required to cover every high-risk person in the United States. 62% of those vaccines will not be available until the beginning of December, well after flu season ends.
The problem is that manufacturers can’t produce it quickly enough. Typically, two-thirds of Americans 65 and older opt to get the vaccine; for younger people, it’s only one-third. This year’s higher demand is far greater than the supply. U.S. health care officials promise to invest in the infrastructure to meet future demands for the flu vaccine, but it begs the question: why does it take a pandemic to galvanize us into action?
Did you get vaccinated against H1N1? Has the shortage affected your ability to get it? Discuss!