In a sign of just how tight the supply of swine flu vaccine is, New York officials said yesterday they are backing down on mandatory vaccination of health-care workers.
People line up for swine flu vaccine in Indianapolis on Thursday.
People line up for swine flu vaccine in Indianapolis on Thursday. Darron Cummings/AP
A controversial state regulation, already blocked temporarily by a New York judge's ruling, has been made moot by the fact that there isn't enough vaccine to get the job done anyway. Now New York will concentrate on vaccinating pregnant women and children, the New York Times reports. Less than one-quarter of the vaccine expected in New York by the end of October is now on track to arrive.
Same story out west in California, where flu cases are surging and vaccine is scarce. The state is supposed to get 20 million doses of swine flu vaccine this season. So far just 1.7 million doses have made it, the Los Angeles Times reports, and seasonal flu vaccine is also hard to come by. "It has been an abomination," Marcy Zwelling, a Los Alamitos doctor, told the paper.
As of Tuesday, not quite 13 million doses of vaccine—more than 27 million short of the expects 40 million doses—were available nationwide.
The Washington Post's editorial page rips the swine flu response, "After eight years of talk about preparing for either biological attacks or life-threatening pandemic influenza, the performance is worse than disappointing." Most cases of the new H1N1 have been mild, a "lucky break" for the government, the Post writes, but that's not "good enough" when the public's health is on the line.
Humorist Andy Borowitz lampooned the growing problems in an "exclusive interview" with the Swine Flu Virus, who said he was "thrilled" by the vaccine shortages. "The conflicting information about me that the media are putting out there, the delays in the vaccine, the urban myths — it's all good," the flu told Borowitz in a sit-down at a Department of Motor Vehicles office near New York's Penn Station.
Has all the publicity gone to the virus's head? He laughed and told Borowitz, he's "the same old bug," adding, "I still take the subway."