H1N1 Vaccine Delay Dogs Doctors, Worries Patients

Federal health officials say shortages will persist due to production delays.

ByABC News
October 16, 2009, 3:25 PM

Oct. 16, 2009— -- In the office of Dr. Randy Wexler, flu vaccinations are usually a simple routine -- the patient arrives, gets the shot, and leaves shortly thereafter.

But Wexler, an assistant professor at Ohio State University, says that recently, what a normally simple matter has become a big headache, as frustrated patients line up for a shot that is currently in short supply.

"We are getting killed here," he said. "We get calls daily to be put on the H1N1 'list,' though… people who are not on the high-risk list get upset when told that [there is no list]."

With more than twice the number of phone calls per day, and a growing number of flu patients, he said, "this is just the beginning… [it's] going to be a long winter."

Wexler is not alone. At a time when federal health officials and state health departments are reassuring the public that there will be enough doses of the new vaccine to go around, a slow and sporadic supply has caused trouble for doctors on the ground who must address their patients' demands for the vaccine.

Judging from what health officials have to say, it may be a while yet before the supply problems are ironed out.

At a Friday briefing, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that while the CDC had predicted there would be around 40 million doses available for use by end of the month, the new estimates have been slashed to 30 million or less – making it much more challenging for states to vaccinate their populations for several weeks to come.

The CDC affirms that eventually there will be enough H1N1 vaccine for all, and most of the state and county health departments contacted by the ABC News Medical Unit did not seem as distressed about supply.

"It's not a shortage," said Amy Caruso, the public information officer for the state of North Carolina. "More is on its way; they're going to keep producing."