H1N1 Vaccine Not Meeting Demand

School of Public Health survey finds lag in vaccine distribution

Only 30 percent of American adults who have tried to obtain the H1N1 influenza vaccine were actually able to receive it, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health survey.

Moreover, just 34 percent of “high priority” individuals classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—such as pregnant mothers and health care providers—had received H1N1 vaccines by the time of the study.

The survey directors conducted a national poll between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 to determine the prevalence of swine flu vaccine shortages and examine the opinions of adults who had tried to obtain the vaccination.

HSPH conducted the poll because “there were media reports about shortages” and the research team “also wanted to see how frustrated people were,” according to HSPH researcher and study co-director Gillian K. SteelFisher.

While the results may seem bleak, SteelFisher stressed that “it’s important to keep in mind that this poll was from two weeks ago,” and that “the experience has probably changed in the last two weeks.”

Approximately a third of respondents who had tried to obtain the vaccine and failed described themselves as “frustrated.” But 91 percent of respondents who had not been vaccinated said they would try again this year.

Harvard University Health Services has offered H1N1 vaccines only to select “high risk” individuals.

UHS Director David S. Rosenthal ’59 emphasized that UHS was following the procedures prescribed by the CDC.

“We’ve been in touch with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and they’re getting supplies from the CDC,” he said.

Rosenthal added that UHS is trying to reduce swine flu risk by encouraging students, faculty, and staff to “continue to wash their hands frequently” and to follow the instructions on the UHS Web site.

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