Photo: Creative Commons/ alvi2047

This Fox News headline yesterday caught my eye, “CDC: 114 Children Dead from H1H1; Vaccine Shortages Continue”, and this one from CNN, “CDC: H1N1 Spreading Even as Vaccine Supply Grows“. These are examples of sensational news headlines that needlessly spread panic about the H1N1 flu. And although these two headlines came out on the same day and were based on the same CDC press briefing, they almost seem to contradict each other. Which is it? Is there a vaccine shortage or not? According to the CDC, as of 10/28/09 there were over 23 million doses allocated, but only close to 17 million shipped, and as of yesterday there were 26.6 million available for shipping. These numbers do fall very short of the originally projected 40 million doses available by the end of October – but already 89 million doses have been distributed. And what about those 114 deaths? What the article fails to mention is that, according to the CDC press briefing, more than 2/3 of those children had underlying conditions.

How about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine? Here is a great Op-Ed piece by Paul Offit about just that. Offit, a pediatrician and vaccine expert, also authored the book Autism’s False Prophets in 2008 which debunks the widespread falsehood that childhood vaccines cause autism. And here is the rather dry question and answer the CDC has put out concerning H1N1 vaccine safety if you have the time to read through the fine-print esque droll that the CDC puts out to cover its butt in case someone does suffer one of the rare side-effects inherent in all vaccines – NOTE: the same side-effects that can happen with the regular seasonal flu vaccine. Although seriously, if you have questions about this, the CDC website is a great and easy place to find a wealth of information on this topic.