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HHS secretary raises concerns about vaccine production, delays – MedCity Morning Read, Oct. 22, 2009

The United States depends too much on other countries to manufacture vaccines, and delays in the production of H1N1 flu shots prove it, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress yesterday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States depends too much on other countries to manufacture vaccines, and delays in the production of H1N1 flu shots prove it, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress yesterday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The Times said lawmakers were “alarmed” by the fact that four of the five manufacturers of the H1N1 vaccines are foreign companies, and concerned that those flu shots will land in the U.S. when it’s “too late to do any good.”

A recent study by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana projects that 8 percent of the U.S. population will be infected with H1N1 flu this week, the Times reported. A total of 63 percent will be infected by the end of the year, the study predicts.

Federal officials initially said that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine would be available by the middle of this month, the Associated Press reported. That estimate was later reduced to 45 million. In reality, 12.8 million doses were available as of Tuesday, the AP said.

Sebelius, who told Congress the U.S. needs to expand its manufacturing capacity, also maintained that the technology used to make vaccines must improve, according to the Times.

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