H1N1 vaccine: Many can't get it; some don't want it

Supply isn’t keeping up with demand when it comes to the H1N1 vaccine. But an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the situation is beginning to improve.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s chief health officer for H1N1 response, told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that vaccine production hasn’t gone as well as manufacturers had hoped.

“I think the fundamental challenge right now is that the production of the virus has been slower than expected because the virus is not growing well in eggs,” said Dr. Schuchat.

“It’s improving in terms of the yields we’re seeing. But right now, we’re at a situation where the supply is not up to the tremendous demand that we’re seeing.”

Dr. Schuchat said twice the number of H1N1 vaccine doses are available today as compared to two weeks ago.

A national poll by the Harvard School of Public Health suggests only about a third of adults who’ve tried to get the H1N1 vaccine have been able to find it.

But some who could have the H1N1 vaccine say they don’t want it. University of Pennsylvania professor Art Caplan says refusing the vaccine is distressing – and dangerous. Caplan, who studies medical bioethics, says it might be time for a few “fireside chats.”

“Not just from the president, but the surgeon general and the CDC head,” said Caplan.

“There’s so much fear and misunderstanding out there that we really have to mount a much more sustained campaign to take it on. When so many people say ‘I don’t need this right now. I wouldn’t get this vaccine,’ you know that you haven’t done the job yet.”

That job doesn’t appear to be done in L.A. County.

Public health director Jonathan Fielding today told the Board of Supervisors that H1N1 vaccinations rates among African-Americans are lower than he expected. He said data suggests there’s a “lack of willingness” in the black community to get vaccinated.