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Manufacturing Delays To Reduce Number Of Doses Available At Start Of U.S. H1N1 Vaccination Campaign

HHS announced on Monday that manufacturing and packaging issues have reduced by more than half the number of H1N1 vaccine doses that will be available in October when the U.S. vaccination campaign is set to start, Reuters reports. “Our latest information from the manufacturers tells us that we now expect to have about 45 million doses by October 15 with approximately 20 million doses being delivered each week thereafter, up to the 195 million doses that we have purchased,” Bill Hall, an HHS spokesman, said by email. U.S. health officials have recommended “about half the U.S. population, or 160 million people” receive the H1N1 vaccine (Fox, 8/17).

“But the October shortfall … will extend by a month efforts to get people at highest risk vaccinated against the new flu strain,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes. “First in line are supposed to be pregnant women, children and health care workers, followed by younger adults with flu-risky conditions such as asthma” (Neergaard, 8/17).

H1N1 In Africa, Middle East

Agence France-Presse/Mail & Guardian examines the impact of H1N1 on Africa, where many countries have overburdened health systems and “health experts say [it] will be difficult to track as it spreads across the continent.” Because African populations are affected by a host of other diseases, they are “more susceptible to new viruses,” according to the news service. Additionally, the continent lacks the funds to fight the pandemic. “World Health Organisation regional director Luis Gomes Sambo warned last week that the agency had a $31 million shortfall in its African response plan,” according to the newspaper. “So far only $700,000 has been made available and it will be difficult to shift funds already earmarked for other public health programmes,” Sambo said (Khumalo, 8/18).

The Global Arab Network reports on the rising number of H1N1 cases in the Middle East, providing the latest from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon (Taha, 8/17).