Federal Officials Say Nation Faces Shortage of H1N1 Flu Vaccine

U.S. health officials expressed frustration Wednesday with the nation's struggles to produce vaccines against the H1N1 flu strain and told lawmakers they cannot guarantee that supply problems won't resurface.

The new flu strain is spreading faster than the U.S. can make vaccines against it. Equipment problems and the slow pace in growing the new flu strain in laboratories for vaccines scuttled plans to have 161 million vaccines available by October. Today, just 32.3 million doses are available, far less than the 159 million needed to cover all those at highest risk from the H1N1 flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said at a House Appropriations subcommittee briefing Wednesday.

A huge shortage of vaccine is leaving most local residents unprotected against the H1N1 virus and is making local physicians and health officials increasingly critical of distribution problems.

Dr. Steven J. Lana, a Buffalo pediatrician and part-time medical director of the Buffalo Public Schools, said he gets “multiple, multiple calls a day” for the vaccine but still doesn’t have any injectable vaccine to offer patients.