Long waits for H1N1 vaccine

October 27, 2009 8:28:41 PM PDT
The slow development of H1N1 flu vaccines is frustrating Americans anxious to get inoculated. The original plan was to have 120 million doses available by now. But less than half that amount has been produced.

Now the government is promising that supplies are increasing. That's good news for those in the Chicago area who have been having trouble finding the vaccine.

On Tuesday, inoculations were given at Kennedy King College, Olive Harvey College, Daley College, Truman College, Arturo Velasquez Institute and Wright College.Locations/Times Free Vaccines offered in Chicago (PDF)

Most of the people waited at Wright College on Tuesday for several hours just for the chance to wait some more in a crowded gymnasium. They waited for their number to be called. The health department handed out about 1300 numbers.

Five other locations, including the Velasquez Institute on the South Side are also hosting clinics with roughly the same number of doses available and the same amount of time waiting.

"It doesn't matter to us that we're waiting a long wait to make sure that they have a healthy season and stay healthy," said Jenniver Skweres, mother.

"They are in school and the swine flu is very scary and don't want nothing to happen to them. Love them," said Angie Torres, mother.

Because it is in a large urban center, the Chicago Health Department is getting shipments of the vaccine directly. Other counties have to wait on the state. Still the supply is slow in coming.

"Every week we get more and more vaccines available to us to distribute," said Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago Dept. of Public Health.

Administrators from the Centers for Disease Control admit their initial estimates of supply of the vaccine were off but they say it's getting better.

"We went from about 14 million doses last Wednesday available to today 22.4 million. That's an increase of 8 million doses in about a week or a little less than a week," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director.

The demand remains very high in the city and suburbs. Despite assurances there will eventually be enough for everyone, people waiting in line on Tuesday night were taking no chances.

"It's best to get the shot and make sure you're all covered so you won't have no worries," said Darius Wright, student.

Once the vaccine is more available to private doctors, the state insurance board said Tuesday they have gotten the major health insurance companies to cover it.

But the virus is causing enough concern that many hospitals are now restricting young visitors and those with flu-like symptoms.


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