Health Officials Say H1N1 Vaccine Production May Be Sped Up

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) — U.S. health officials say they are working with vaccine producers to step up production speed and bring the H1N1 vaccine more quickly to targeted groups.

Public health officials who briefed Congress Wednesday said they believe there will not enough H1N1 vaccine to meet the needs of high-priority population groups until at least December, The Washington Post reported.

“Current projections show that 62 percent of Alabama’s vaccine will not be available until after December 1,” Donald E. Williamson, Alabama’s health officer, said.

Vaccine makers have been able to tweak growth of the medicine, which grows slowly in fertilized chicken eggs, and say they expect to be able to produce two or three doses from each egg. In the summer, production was at 0.2 to 0.5 doses per egg, said Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Government officials said they have asked vaccine makers to put their production into multi-dose vials, which are five times quicker to fill than single does vials.

Targeted segments of the population are pregnant women, health workers, parents of newborns, those 6 months through 24 years old and those ages 25 to 64 who are chronically ill, the newspaper reported.

The federal government ordered 250 million doses of vaccine for the nation’s 308 million residents. The targeted groups include 159 million people.

The government has made 32.3 million doses of pandemic vaccine available to states and cities.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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