Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit the airwaves this morning, trying to reassure Americans about the swine flu vaccine. Noting that many people have been frustrated by the shortage, she said supply "is coming out the door as fast as it comes off the production line. We were relying on the manufacturers to give us their numbers and as soon as we got numbers we put them out to the public. It does appear now that those numbers were overly rosy."
The White House had hoped 120 million swine flu vaccine doses would be available this month, but only 11 million have arrived. So this weekend, President Obama made swine flu a national emergency, which allows Sebelius to shortcut or forego some regulations. Sebelius said, "We were relying on the manufacturers to give us their numbers and as soon as we got numbers we put them out to the public. It does appear now that those numbers were overly rosy." She added, "If we had found the virus a little earlier we could have started a little earlier... Unfortunately, yelling at an egg doesn't make it grow any faster. So what we're dealing with is an egg-based technology [in which] the growth rate is slower than expected." (The vaccine is grown in eggs.)
Sebelius also said, "I don't want to minimize the anxiety of a lot of parents who want to get their kids vaccinated, but we do have a vaccine that works. It works with everybody over ten years old with one dose, and the immune response hits more quickly than we anticipated, so actually as of today, we'll have about 16.5 million doses available throughout the country."