H1N1 vaccine shortage, East Texas officials react

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The H1N1 virus has now spread to 41 states, and it is hitting children especially hard. Eleven children nationwide died just last week alone. A shortage of the vaccine has some doctors wondering when they will receive the shots.

Marlo Bitter is back at work, but less than a week ago, she and her oldest daughter were told by doctors they had probable cases of the H1N1 flu.

"I was definitely down for a few days," said Marlo Bitter, who had a suspected case of H1N1. "It made me tired. It kind of wiped me out. The soar throat - all the symptoms were kind of hard to deal with."

And, Bitter says she is scared her youngest daughter may get the virus, especially since the vaccine is still not available here.

"It kind of makes you wonder what makes it so complicated why is it difficult," said Bitter.

Health officials say the high demand and need for extensive testing has complicated the delivery. The CDC predicted that 40 million doses would be available nation-wide by the end of October. Now they say only 28 to 31 million doses will be available. In Texas, only 500,000 doses have been delivered. The state is expected to receive 15-million by January.

"They have repeated that it is going to be slow," said Stephanie Taylor, with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. "It's going to be a low amount of doses. They have encouraged physicians and the community to just be patient."

But, doctors and hospitals say it's hard to meet demands and be patient.

"Right now, we are hearing what a lot of hospitals and clinics are hearing - that it is on the way," said John Moore, with Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals. "We still don't know exactly when that will be, but we hope it's soon."

As the vaccine trickles in, there is no set date for public delivery.

"We do still have a long way to go," said Taylor.

"It just makes us have to do all the basic things like wash our hands and use the hand sanitizer," said Bitter.

So, they take the actions they can, while waiting for the vaccine. The Northeast Texas Public Health District told us they got about 100 doses of injectable vaccines Monday morning. They will go to health care workers, and a public clinic will be set up once more arrive.

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