Early Vaccination Efforts Reached Priority Groups
By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: December 22, 2009
The initial doses of vaccine against pandemic H1N1 influenza were used quickly and reached the priority groups, the CDC said.
According to a national survey, by Dec. 12 about 46 million people had been vaccinated, with coverage about twice as high in children as in adults, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said today.
Now, about 60 million Americans have probably been vaccinated, she said during a conference call with reporters.
Similar results were found in a survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health on Dec. 16 and 17.
In the Harvard poll, only 22% of adults in the priority groups established by the CDC received vaccine, but 60% of parents said they had already had their children immunized or intended to do so.
Schuchat said most states' initial efforts were focused on getting the vaccine to children because young people have been especially hard hit by the new virus.
With about 111 million doses made available so far, H1N1 vaccine should become increasingly easier to find for all who want it, she added.
Although influenza activity, almost all attributed to H1N1, continues to decline, Schuchat stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, citing uncertainty about the course of the rest of the flu season.
In particular, she responded to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found children younger than 10 would probably be protected after just one dose. (See Single H1N1 Dose Called Effective for Younger Kids)
That finding goes against the CDC recommendation that young children receive two doses about a month apart, which Schuchat reaffirmed.
The study in JAMA was "one single study, with one particular vaccine, in one population, at one point in time," she said.
Information from studies conducted under the auspices of the NIH, she said, indicates that two doses will be necessary.
"It doesn't have to be exactly at four weeks, but you do need to get that second dose in, and we strongly recommend it," she declared.
Seeking to calm concerns about possible adverse effects from the vaccine, Schuchat said "we've intensified our safety monitoring and we are not seeing any worrisome signs."