About 70 million doses of H1N1 vaccine could be headed to the curb on pick-up day, victim of waning public interest as the prophylactic was slow to become available and the flu was milder than expected. Among the big lessons taught by the H1N1 flu, reports the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, is that egg-based vaccine manufacturing is likely to disappoint in a pandemic. There's no big news in that, of course, except the apparent lack of information available to government officials who continue to beat the egg while vaccine-making progress is happening all around them.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted again last week--this time at the 44th National Immunization Conference in Atlanta--the need for improvement over traditional vaccine making methods. It's the same message she sent in February at a conference for public health professionals. But she put more of a point on it this time, under the veneer of a confession about needing to communicate better with the public.
"We raised expectations too high," she said. "When vaccine manufacturers provided estimates of future production, we reported that. And when vaccine grew more slowly [in eggs] than anticipated, we had to revise the projections downward."