Six months into the H1N1 influenza pandemic, the vaccine to protect against it is still flowing more like the drip-drip-drip of an intravenous line than the rushing river it needs to be.
In Minnesota, that means that as the flu season kicks into high gear, vaccine has reached only a small fraction of the estimated 2.4 million state residents at high risk for H1N1's potentially life-threatening complications. There's not even enough vaccine to protect many doctors and nurses caring for flu patients on the front lines. At Park Nicollet Health Services in St. Louis Park, each day begins with an 8:30 a.m. conference call to figure out influenza logistics: how many caregivers are ill and how to parcel out the healthy ones around the system to handle the daily deluge of patients…
Policymakers won't need to start from scratch in searching for solutions. The Mayo Clinic's Dr. Gregory Poland and the University of Minnesota's Michael Osterholm are among the experts who have laid out smart, practical recommendations that federal lawmakers should embrace to entice drug manufacturers to stay in the vaccine business and invest in new technology.
Star Tribune, 10/31/09