Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Vaccine Roll Out Starts

The roll out of the Babe Flu vaccine has started. Mostly in the form of nasal mist which I have to say sounds pretty gross. Here’s what’s coming into the Washington area:

The initial availability of the vaccine will be strictly limited. The District has ordered 36,000 doses; Maryland has ordered 35,400 doses; and Virginia has ordered 43,500 doses, according to health officials. The first order will also test the distribution system for the vaccine.

It’s interesting that the vaccine: will be shipped directly via FedEx or UPS to health-care providers on the list to receive it. Seems a strange way to be getting a vaccine but then again it’s probably the fastest and most dependable way to get it health care providers. I’d be interested to know where it’s being sent from.

Here’s how the roll out of the vaccine will proceed:

States began ordering vaccine last week, and about 7 million doses are expected to be available by the end of this week. About 40 million doses of nasal spray and injectable vaccine will be available by the middle of the month, with another 10 million to 20 million to become available every week after that.

So let’s do a little math here. There are 300 million people in the country lets say 250 million end up getting the vaccine. It said 40 million could be vaccinated by the middle of the month. That leaves 210 million left. Let’s take the high end of the estimate of available doses coming along each week and that’s 20 million each week. Will drop our count to 200 million just so the math is easier. It means it will take 10 more weeks to get everyone vaccinated. That takes us to the beginning of next year. But if only 10 million doses are available each week that’s 20 weeks and that takes us into March of 2010. Actually it’s probably more time than that when you factor in the fact that kids are going to need two doses of the vaccine.

This assumes people are going to be seeking out the vaccine. I think a great deal depends on what happens. If people stop dropping like flies or a bunch of kids get sick and die, I assume people will be storming the gates trying to get the vaccine. But if things stay as they are with mild symptoms and people being sick for a short time, they’ll be plenty of vaccine to go around.

Here are a couple of things I’m wondering about. How do you determine when people who are not in the high risks groups start getting the vaccine? Is this done on a state by state basis? If one state vaccinates everyone on the high risk group does that state get to start giving the vaccine out to anyone? For example say Montana vaccinates all the people considered high risk does it then get to vaccinate people not on the list if say New York state hasn’t finished vaccinating everyone considered at high risk. You assume that it might be easier for Montana to finish before New York because of the differences in population. Who decides that.

Another thing I thought interesting is the CDC is just now starting an advertising campaign. Why wasn’t this done earlier? Why aren’t government officials showing up all over the TV? Why aren’t we seeing ads right now.

Then there’s this quote:

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Gregory Poland, a flu vaccine expert at the Mayo Clinic. “Then you mix into that people’s concerns about conspiracy theories and government misbehavior and conflicts of interest and all of that, and the average layperson has a difficult time discerning what to do.”

Well if there’s a great deal of false information out there why aren’t the health care people putting out the correct information. Seems to me the health care community is a little flat footed on this.

But if we get lucky and most cases are mild, we won’t have to worry about this. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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