Health Team

H1N1 vaccines up to 45 days behind schedule

Posted November 9, 2009 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2009 6:30 p.m. EST

— Flu season can be confusing, especially when there are two vaccines – one for H1N1 and another for the seasonal flu. Both seem to be in short supply at the very time that many people are eager to get them.

North Carolina Health Director Jeff Engel said the volume of available H1N1 vaccine is increasing, but delivery has been up to 45 days behind schedule.

All five vaccine manufacturers said they expected to meet the demand for H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines earlier in the season, but that is not what happened.

"The manufacture of this vaccine is not rocket science yet," Engel said. "Unfortunately, it's still made on fertile hen's eggs and the amount of vaccine dose per egg was much lower (than expected)."

The state orders the H1N1 vaccine each week based on a formula of the population and distributes it to different providers. County health departments and pharmacy chains got a large portion of past H1N1 vaccines, but Engel said they're shifting more toward private primary care providers.

"Because in this time of scarceness, when the H1N1 vaccine is in short supply, we think the best way to target it is in children with underlying disease and pregnant women. And we think the private provider community can do that best," Engel said. 

Wake County runs out of H1N1 vaccine

In Wake County, five H1N1 vaccine clinics were temporarily closed on Monday after they ran out of the H1N1 vaccine.

The closure came after the county distributed more than 6,000 doses of the vaccine in a matter of hours. The remaining 3,900 doses of the vaccine that the county received went to private doctors and clinics.

Wake County Community Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford said people who still want to receive the H1N1 vaccine should call their primary care provider or local pharmacy.

The county anticipates that there will be sufficient supply of H1N1 vaccine for anyone who wants it over the next few months.