Double the flu strain, double the shot...bummer.

By Molly Reuter - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - New numbers from the CDC show the number of confirmed H1N1 cases has nearly doubled in the United States in one day with more than 16,000 cases. Even with the growing number, there is still no vaccine. The World Health Organization could decide as early as next week to call for production of an H1N1 vaccine.

Scientists have been working on the seasonal flu vaccine for months; preparing to make some 130 million doses to be distributed around the country.

"The determinates of this upcoming flu season's vaccines for later in the fall have already been made, so everybody has prepared for those vaccine components," said Dr. Ed Dominguez.

But now, there is a new component. The H1N1 strain has thrown the vaccine world for a loop.

"It's logistically going to be very difficult to add another, or a fourth component to that vaccine," he explained.

That means you may have to get two vaccines this fall. One for the seasonal flu and one for the new H1N1 strain - that is, if it's ready. Dr. Amir Sham, an immunologist at U.T. Health Science Center in Tyler said it will take four to six months to make the vaccine.

First, he said the virus is selected and provided to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then mass produces the virus and makes a vaccine. The first batch of the vaccines are then given to the National Institute of Health for testing.

And from there, the FDA has to approve licensing for the vaccine. Dr. Sham said manufacturers have been provided with the virus. They're just waiting on the go ahead from the World Health Organization.

"We will have something close to 900,000 doses of vaccine available," said Dr. Shams. "How it will be distributed and whether we need to have it will all be questions answered in the future."

Which for Dr. Sham is job security.

Doctors say if two vaccines are needed this winter, you will be able to take them both in the same day, just in different arms.

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