POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 2:42pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:24pm
FDA approves H1N1 vaccine; first shipments expected early next month...
The first doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine could be available even sooner than officials first thought.
The Food and Drug Administration has given the okay to vaccines made by four drug companies.
The first shipments could now come in just a few weeks.
"A single dose of vaccine rapidly introduces strong immune response in healthy adults," testified Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today.
Sebelius told Congress the vaccine should eventually be available at 90,000 sites around the country.
They are working on plans to get the first doses to the most vulnerable populations as soon as possible.
"How to get pregnant women, children, healthcare workers, how to get them to front of line if you will," said Secretary Sebelius.
Doctors around the country are working on getting the word out to those patients that the vaccine could be in their offices soon.
"We're actually e-mailing a post card to all of our patients that says, you know, because you're a teenager you're at risk so you need to come in and get these immunizations," says Dr. Kristin Rager of Carolinas Medical Center.
The F.D.A approval comes just in time as the swine flu appears to be spreading rapidly through schools.
The World Health Organization has said the swine flu could infect as many as one third of the world's population, but the new vaccine could soon be a key tool in fighting that spread.
The vaccine will be shipped to the states, who then will distribute the vaccine to the recommended populations.
Last week, the C.D.C said it's likely just one dose of the vaccine will be sufficient to protect from the virus in most populations.