While the federal government originally promised 130-million doses of H-1-N-1 flu vaccine would be shipped out to the states by now, only about 13-million doses — or one-tenth — have been delivered. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who chairs the Senate panel devoted to health, says the lacking numbers are a concern, but vaccine production is ramping up.
“Over 40-million doses are expected by the middle of November and 130-million doses by the end of the year,” Harkin says. “All in all, considering the scale of it and the lateness on which they were able to isolate the virus, I think, by gosh, they’ve done a pretty darn good job.” Health officials blame the production slowdown, at least in part, on the antiquated process of creating vaccines, which relies on millions of chicken eggs. Harkin says Iowa is getting its share of the shots and most clinics that receive them are going through them in record time.
“Every county in Iowa is receiving the H-1-N-1 vaccine as it becomes available,” Harkin says. “As of last Friday, Iowa has been allocated 124-thousand-500 doses and 106,800 have been shipped to our state.” Since the number is so limited, priority is being given to certain people, including: pregnant women, child care workers, health care workers, emergency responders, and those with chronic health conditions.
Still, Harkin notes, an allotment of just under 125,000 doses doesn’t go very far for a state with a population of just over three-million people. “Clearly this is not enough,” Harkin says. “At vaccination clinics across Iowa, supplies have run out quickly but Iowa will continue to get a proportionate share as national supplies of the vaccine increase in the weeks and months ahead.”
Since April, health officials say the H-1-N-1 flu has killed four people in Iowa and more than 800 people nationwide.