The first H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine shots available in the U.S. were shipped ahead of schedule after the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis finished production nearly two weeks early, the New York Times reports. "Until recently, nearly all the first vaccine batches were expected to be of the nasal spray form, a live virus that is not recommended for pregnant women, children under 2, adults over 50 and people with health problems," the newspaper writes (McNeil, 9/29).
"Sanofi-Aventis has a contract to provide about 75 million doses of vaccine to the U.S. government, which is providing it free to physicians, health departments and other healthcare providers," the Los Angeles Times' blog, "Booster Shots," reports. "The company will fill orders placed by state and county health departments, shipping the vaccine directly to more than 90,000 distribution centers" (Maugh, 9/29).
U.S. health officials have stressed that there will eventually be enough H1N1 vaccines to cover Americans who want one. But priority for the first batches of the vaccine would be given to the groups most vulnerable to the virus, including health care professionals, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions, CQ HealthBeat reports (Attias, 9/29).
U.S. troops will soon begin receiving required H1N1 vaccine shots, "a key requirement of the Pentagon's emergency plan to ensure that troops are available to protect the nation," the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. In addition to "provid[ing] health officials with an early assessment of the vaccine's efficacy," the troops "also will be on tap to provide help to states if problems come up as the flu season continues" (9/30).