Vaccine shortage persists

With peak flu season swiftly approaching, demand for H1N1 vaccines in San Francisco continues to outweigh supply.

The nationwide shortage caused by delays in the production and distribution of the swine flu vaccine for states has California health officials fearing that those most at risk of contracting the fast-spreading virus will not be vaccinated before the end of December.

The height of flu season occurs anytime between late November and March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The shortage is already being felt in The City. The Department of Public Health said Tuesday that demand remains high, and it’s “very close” to running out of its first major shipment of 28,000 vaccines that arrived late last month.

San Francisco has not received word as to when another shipment will arrive, said Health Department spokesman Jim Soos.

Kaiser Permanente, which serves one-third of the Bay Area’s population, also received shipments late last month and reported Wednesday that its supply “is very limited.”

“We received less than we requested,” Kaiser Permanente of Northern California said in a statement provided to The Examiner on Wednesday. “We have no definitive information on when we will get more.”

The shortage comes about a month after President Barack Obama declared the H1N1 pandemic a national emergency.

The City needs up to 180,000 doses to cover all San Franciscans who are at high risk of contracting swine flu, health officials have said.

Those people include pregnant women, anyone from 6 months to 24 years old, and health care and emergency responders.

Before the latest shipment, San Francisco received and doled out 7,000 doses of the nasal spray to children 5 and older.

However, the nasal spray is not safe for some of the most susceptible groups: pregnant women and people with chronic health
problems.

All but 5,600 of the latest shipment of 28,000 doses were injectable, Soos said.

Swine flu cases across the state

H1N1 statistics between April 3 and Oct. 24:

Location    ICU cases    Deaths
Los Angeles County    96    44
San Diego County    85    24
Orange County    80    21
San Bernardino County    49    17
Alameda County    61    17
San Francisco    19    7
San Mateo County    14    7
California    812    249
Source: California Department of Public Health

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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