The first round of swine flu jabs in the US could begin sooner than expected, with some vaccine available as early as the first week of October, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today.
Sebelius said she is confident the vaccine will be available early enough to beat the peak of the expected flu season this autumn and that early doses are intended for healthcare workers and other high-priority groups.
“We’re on track to have an ample supply rolling by the middle of October, but we may have some early vaccine as early as the first full week in October. We’ll get the vaccine out the door as fast as it rolls off the production line,” she told ABC’s “This Week”.
The possibility of early jabs follows encouraging news from last week about the swine flu vaccine.
Researchers have discovered that one dose instead of two could be enough for healthy adults, and protection could begin once vaccinated within 10 days instead of three weeks.
“That’s great, which means we’ll have a lot more vaccine,” she said. “We also have seen a robust immune response within 10 days, instead of three weeks as was feared.”
Sebelius said the vaccine doses will be distributed immediately to designated locations across the country once they are available.
“Every state has a plan saying these are the sites to get the vaccine as quickly as possible into people’s arms. That’s where the distribution will go,” she said.
“So, the first week in October, we expect some of the vaccine to begin to roll, and by mid-October, to have the kind of supplies we were talking about. But we may have some available earlier. And we’ll get it out to states as fast as it comes off the production lines,” Sebelius said.