SWINE FLU ACCESS

POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 5:01pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:24pm

CDC officially announced what groups will have first access to this fall's Swine Flu vaccine...

Today we learned that swine flu vaccine will not be available by the time kids go back to school, prompting doctors to say they fully expect the virus to spread even more.

The vaccines' clinical trials are underway, and manufacturing is on track to get the first doses out in October.

But there will not be enough for everyone right away.

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a tough decision today, deciding who should be at the top of the list.

Pregnant women, healthcare workers, people from 6 months to 24 years old, caregivers for infants under six months. And adults 24 to 64 with medical conditions that would put them at a high risk for complications.

All groups now affected more frequently and severely than the general population.

"They'll look at the those populations in which the virus has been most active. Where's it causing the most damage?" says Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt Medical School.

The government hopes the first doses are available for those groups by October.

"Influenza vaccines, whether they're seasonal or this new H1N1 vaccine, production can be unpredictable. Right now we are on track expecting vaccine doses in the fall," said Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, MD, of the CDC Wednesday afternoon.

But doctors recognize that recommendations may have to be refined as they see exactly how much vaccine can actually be manufactured by then.

"Everybody's been working day and night. As I like to say, the lights are on in the laboratories at night, making this vaccine and evaluating it," adds Dr. Schaffner.

Doctors were quick to point out, H1N1 is not the only flu threat.

There is a regular seasonal flu vaccine which will be readily available to everyone.

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