Waiting for shots

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Millions of Americans, considered prime candidates to receive H1N1 flu shots because of their age and risk factors, wonder when they will be able to get the vaccine. While some of the vaccine has been distributed around the country, the process hasn't been well-organized, resulting in shortages in some areas and surpluses in others.

The first H1N1 case in the U.S. was confirmed in March. The first U.S. death from the virus was in April, and in June the World Health Organization declared the first worldwide pandemic since the 1968 outbreak of Hong Kong flu. In October, President Obama declared a national emergency.

Knowing that this strain of the virus had the potential to be both widespread and deadly -- so far more than 7,000 deaths have been confirmed worldwide -- efforts to produce an H1N1 vaccine began in earnest while manufacturers of the vaccine also were turning out doses of the seasonal flu vaccine. With the peak of the flu season just around the corner, those seeking protection wonder if they will get their shots in time to do any good.

It has been said before and bears repeating: The government-directed effort to deal with this pandemic leaves much to be desired, and it raises doubts about the government's ability to provide universal health care.

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