H1N1 vaccine needed? Good luck

It was confirmed a world wide pandemic almost six months ago, and a national medical emergency last week, but where are the shots for the H1N1 vaccine? With widespread infection in 46 states, school closings, and employees missing work, it would be nice to have the H1N1 vaccine about now.

"This is a challenging time," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press conference Tuesday. "We wish we had more vaccine available."

So do we. As a nurse, I don't really quite understand the delay. Large pharmaceutical companies have been making vaccines for decades. They know how to do it, how to produce volume, and were appraised of the urgency of the H1N1. This is the largest public health emergency in a century and we are woefully unprepared.

Freidan goes on to lament that he wishes we had better technology. We still make vaccines the old tried and true method of growing the virus in eggs.

Again, I simply don't get it. With the billions of dollars being spent on medical research, can't we do this a bit better? Couldn't we recreate a medium that mirrors "egg" and grow more? If we can have artificial hearts, robotic surgery, and titanium replacement parts, can't we practice effective public health?

I don't know. I'm not a scientist. I do know this, though. In the 21st century, when there is a world wide pandemic, we should be able to get protection quickly to large numbers of people. If it was a question of money, then monies should have been spent on protecting people, especially our children.

Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW, is the People Pro. For her e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.
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