- Reuters -
School-based vaccinations a model for the future
While they said years of work were needed before vaccine production was up to the desired standard, some experiments such as vaccinating children in schools might work to help control seasonal influenza.
But there are still holes in the public health system that will take years to patch, and communication with the public could use a bit more polishing, they acknowledged.
"We still don't have the domestic capacity to make as much (flu vaccine) as we need as fast as we need it," Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Health and Human Services Department, told a news conference.
She said HHS had been forced by the H1N1 pandemic to work closely with state and local health officials to monitor the virus and deploy drugs and vaccines.
"I actually think our nation's preparedness, our seasonal flu efforts and so on, will never be the same," Lurie said.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said 100 million H1N1 vaccines will have been delivered or would be ready for order by the end of the week. She urged Americans to get vaccinated now and said everyone, not just people on the priority lists, should feel free to get one.
"This is a serious flu that targets people who normally don't get seriously ill from the flu," Sebelius told the news conference.
"We have a chance to lessen the impact or even prevent a big third wave ... and we need to seize this opportunity right now," she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 47 million Americans have been infected with H1N1, nearly 10,000 have been killed by it and more than 200,000 hospitalized.