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CDC: We are making progress on H1N1 vaccine

ALBANY -- While there still might not be enough doses to meet demand, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say progress is being made in getting the swine flu vaccine out to the public.

"The pace of progress is picking up," explained Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "As vaccine supplies increase, I think things should go better. We are toward a path of improvement."

There is twice as much vaccine available now as there was two weeks ago. There are a total of 38 million doses available for order, most of which comes in the injectable form. There are 11 million more doses available than there were on Oct. 30, with an additional 8 million doses anticipated in the coming week.

The priority groups for the injectable inoculation include healthy individuals ages 6 months to 24 years, those ages 25 to 64 with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, those who care for or live with those under 6 months of age, and health care workers with direct patient contact.

"Our goal is to put the vaccine in the path of these priority groups," Schuchat said. "It is very important for every dose to be used as quickly and effectively as possible."

Activity for flu-like illness is much higher than is typical for this time of year, with widespread activity occurring in 48 states. Officials are saying that most of the activity is connected to the pandemic.

"Flu is still widespread," Schuchat said. "Virtually everything we are seeing is the 2009 H1N1 flu.

"I don't think we are at the peak (of flu activity) at this point, but we are at very high levels right now."

The H1N1 virus is affecting primarily those under the age of 25. There have been a total of 129 pediatric deaths in the United States connected to the disease, with two-thirds of those deaths being children with underlying risks.

Those immediately unable get the H1N1 vaccine are encouraged to practice the basic methods of flu prevention such as staying home when sick, washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes, Schuchat said.