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Flu Response

POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 5:26pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:25pm

More H1N1 vaccine getting to those who want it...

Federal health officials say they are trying to ease concerns over the shortage of the H1N1 vaccines.

President Obama declared a national emergency this past weekend due to the outbreak and the government is working with manufactures to step up production and distribution of the vaccines.

Currently there are 150,000 vaccine sites around the country.

In New York City, elementary school children received the H1N1 vaccines for the first time Wednesday.

And in Houston, people started lining up before dawn at a free clinic.

Concern and uncertainty are playing out across the country as cases of H1N1 increase.

The Swine flu is now widespread in 46 states.

Federal health experts say they understand and are working to step up production.

"We know that people are frustrated by the inability to immediately get vaccines now,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

So far, manufacturers have made 23 million vaccines and the government says more doses are rolling out each day.

"In the last week, from last Wednesday until today, there have been a little over nine-million doses to just give you a frame, that's the production that has occurred over the last seven days,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

It still falls short of the government's goal to have 40 million vaccines ready and available by the end of October.

But medical experts say there is no cause for panic.

"Let's cut everybody a little slack, they're trying the best they can. The government is pushing, we're pulling, we would love to have that vaccine and we have waiting patients who would love to receive it. We'll just have to hang tight, more is coming every week," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

Children with pre-existing health conditions, pregnant women, and health care workers are at the top of the list for receiving the vaccine.

Health experts say getting the vaccine, even if it is weeks from now will be the best defense against this new strain of flu virus.

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