The campaign to inoculate the American population against swine flu is getting off to a troubled start. A number of doctors around the country are complaining that they are faced with a shortfall of both H1N1 vaccine as well as seasonal flu shots. And a study from Purdue University estimates that swine flu will infect 63 percent of the population by the end of the year.
"It is a huge hassle because of all the extra communication required and work created by not having publicity and demand matched by supply," Dr. Thomas Schwenk, chair of family medicine at the University of Michigan, tells ABC News. "We are having to make difficult decisions about who gets seasonal flu vaccine because of shortages and will have to do the same thing with H1N1."
Health officials originally promised that up to 120 million doses would be ready by mid-October, then dropped that number to 40 million. But less than 13 million doses have arrived for use. And that shortfall put Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the hot seat on Capitol Hill yesterday as she was forced to explain what had gone wrong.
Sebelius' bottom line: The U.S. is dependent on too many foreign manufacturers--four of the five companies supplying the U.S. are not U.S.-based--and the big manufacturers are too dependent on the old egg-based production system. She wants to push ahead with cell-based techniques.