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Shortages and Confusion in Flu Fight

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A month ago, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the flu vaccination drive soon to begin would be “a little bumpy.”

That was an understatement.

Good and bad news have alternated in the twice-weekly briefings from Dr. Frieden’s agency, and confusion has reigned across the country. Vaccinations started earlier than ever before, and now there are serious shortages. Demand for swine flu vaccine is soaring, but only 16 million doses are available now.

About 85 million doses of seasonal vaccine have shipped, but that flu is not expected to emerge before winter begins. Officials knew that would happen: vaccine makers started on the seasonal vaccine in February, while swine flu did not emerge until April.

Many doctors complain that they cannot get either, while supermarkets offer 10 percent off groceries to customers buying seasonal shots. Average Americans seem baffled by the choices: Nasal spray or needle? Thimerosal-free or not? No shot for my toddler, or just one, or two?
 
 

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