Kniss: Distribution of H1N1 vaccine is 'political'

Supe hosts forum at Senior Center, says officials are ' angry, upset and outraged'

Supervisor Liz Kniss bemoaned the small number of doses of the H1N1 vaccine in Santa Clara County and called their slow distribution "political" during a community forum on the disease last week at the Mountain View Senior Center.

"This has been a very trying time for us, with H1N1," Kniss said, adding that she and other county officials have been "angry, upset and outraged" at the plodding distribution of the vaccine.

Kniss, who is president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and represents Mountain View and Palo Alto, hosted the forum on Thursday evening to inform the public on the pandemic and ways county health officials are working to stop it.

Because the county has been so vocal about the shortage, she said, officials finally got a response from the state. Two weeks ago the county had received only 8,800 doses of H1N1 vaccine, far less than the 200,000-dose shipment they were expecting. But as of Thursday night, Kniss said, there had been 147,000 doses delivered to Santa Clara County.

"There really hasn't been a whole lot of consistency or coordination to this," she said, adding that the county is "well aware" of the uneven distribution of vaccine among states.

Kniss said the first shipments of vaccine from the state went to Kaiser, because it was determined on the state level that the provider could reach a large population quickly.

Other health providers, as well as the county health department itself, were forced to wait for new shipments, noted county health officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. This despite the fact that they had requested the vaccine at the same time, and through the same Web, site as Kaiser.

"We submitted our orders and didn't see our vaccine," he said.

The vaccine scarcity, he said, was due to several factors. The first is that production for the H1N1 vaccine did not begin as early, because it is a new strain. Fenstersheib said each vaccine must be grown in an egg, and this particular vaccine grew much slower than anticipated.

The production of seasonal flu vaccine was halted to put full efforts into producing H1N1 vaccine, he said. That caused a scarcity of the seasonal flu shots as well.

The bottom line, he said, is the county has now received nearly 150,000 doses and "There will be more vaccine coming."

Fenstersheib spoke for about an hour about the virus -- what makes it "pandemic," what people can do to stay healthy, and why there has been a shortage of both the H1N1 and regular seasonal flu vaccine.

"Occasionally we get a virus that is brand new to the whole world," he said, adding that being a "new strain" is one condition of labeling a virus "pandemic." The other quality that makes a virus pandemic is that it easily spreads from one human to another, which the H1N1 does.

Because this is a new strain, he said, "for the most part all of us are susceptible to it. We don't have any internal immunities, any antibodies against it."

The H1N1 virus, he said, shows the same symptoms as the seasonal flu. It usually begins with a fever that comes on quickly. In children, he said, it can present itself with gastrointestinal symptoms as well.

Like the seasonal flu as well as many other colds and viruses, H1N1 is spread through respiratory fluids, he said. He talked about the "cloud" of droplets that is often emitted from a sneeze.

"All of those droplets are also covered with virus and those virus can attach themselves to your face, eyes," he said, emphasizing the importance of hand washing, keeping hands away from the face and staying home when flu-like symptoms arise.

As obligated as people may feel to go to work or not skip a test at school, he said, "You end up going to work and coughing on a bunch of people," and spreading illness.

"The majority of the population (that gets the H1N1 flu) is going to get fairly mild illness and can be taken care of at home," he said.


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Posted by Jeffrey T
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 17, 2009 at 1:46 am

Before rolling up your sleeve, ask if your vaccine contains a dangerous adjuvant or the dangerous neurotoxin, thimerosal. If your health care provider gets angry if you ask these two question, you may start the question the safety of the vaccine. You may also ask why the "Big Pharma" corporation Baxter Pharmaceuticals patented the novel H1N1 vaccine two years ago, a year before H1N1 was known to exist. It is probably the same reason Admiral William Crowe bought exclusive rights to Anthrax vaccine, before the mysterious Anthrax scare started. It is all about the relationship between big pharmaceutical corporations creating epidemic scares in order to sell overpriced, dangerous patented vaccines to gullible people.

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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Here comes the tin foil hat brigade on the vaccination issue again. Thimerosal is preservative, nothing more. It can be dangerous in large quantities, but so can pure water. The whole Baxter patent thing is something that keeps getting played on survivalist and other wack-a-doodle web sites, but it a red hearing. They did not take out an H1N1 patent, they took out a patent covering just about all known flu variants. H1N1 is NOT new. The current particular strain is, but H1N1 has been around a LONG time. So when you ask your doctor about it the ARE likely to get annoyed, because this sort of misinformation is getting kids sick from long thought beaten diseases and getting people killed who could have gotten treated. The Military gets annoyed at questions about aliens at Area 51 too.

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Posted by Astounded
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Does Jeffrey T. really believe this stuff, or does he just enjoy writing fiction?

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Posted by Todd
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Jeffrey T - I can't believe I'm responding to your immunization fear, uncertainty, and doubt - but your mention of a patent made me go find it, *read it*, and come to a far less hysterical conclusion.

You are specifically wrong that the patent was issued "before H1N1 was known to exist." H1N1 has a long and storied history in humans - particularly the pandemic Spanish Flu of 1918/19 was a strain of H1N1.

The patent (US #20090060950) pertains to a general method of making vaccines, not a specific vaccine for H1N1. The patent lists several human strains of flu virus - H1N1, H2N2, H3N2, ad nauseum - that could be produced using a new, novel method (or older methods as well.)

Bottom line, much of your statement is completely wrong. And I don't think they vaccine recipients are the gullible ones.

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Posted by t-bone
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

The distribution of the vaccine is "political".....and we want these people to take over managing health care for the entire country???

If they can't handle the manufacture and distribution of a vaccine how can we trust them to handle open heart surgery or even mending broken bones?

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Posted by phm
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 17, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Health care reform bills now in the US Senate and House are NOT the government taking over health care. The biggest problem is near-monopoly profit-making insurance corporations avoid insuring people who are or might become sick and avoid paying claims whenever possible. The reforms proposeds, at best, might reduce these problems. IMHO the bills don't go far enough.

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Posted by Mary L
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 1:34 am

I agree with phm: "The biggest problem is near-monopoly profit-making insurance corporations avoid insuring people who are or might become sick and avoid paying claims whenever possible.", but that does not quite explain how the "Kill Granny Clause" works. In Obamacare, when you reach retirement age, you are considered too old to be useful to society and will be denied healtcare, if fact, you will be encouraged to seek some sort of "Kervorkian" style end of life counseling, so I will have to agree with t-bone's comments.
Meanwhile my neighbor just got the new H1N1 vaccine, and within hours came down with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is much worse than influenza. Nobody has ever died from influenza alone, flu can lead to secondary infections, and that can be deadly.

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Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm

i don't understand this, or maybe i just missed the reference, but where is the evidence for the distribution being "political"?

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Posted by phm
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Doctors now are not usually reimbursed for time spent discussing end-of-life decisions with patients. If I understand the clause, it requires insurance plans to pay for the doctor's time when patients discuss what they want in the event they cannot communicate and they are terminally ill. The idea that retired people are considered no longer useful to society - where do people get these ideas?

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Posted by Frances
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Mary L, your neighbor should be contacting the media if they came down with GB after getting the H1N1 vaccination. I am sure the MV Voice would be interested in the story. I keep hearing stories of people who know people who came down with it but it hasn't been reported in the media. Makes me wonder why...

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Posted by Janet Martinez
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 18, 2009 at 5:25 pm

On Obamacare, why do they have a " buy Obamacare or go to jail"
Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” What type of insurance will we be forced to pay for next? Hurricane insurance in Kansas? Blizzard insurance in Hawaii? Tornado insurance in Alaska? Will Obamacare be as "efficient" as the DMV (six hour waits to get to the line which tells you which line to get into?). Why do we need a 1900 page plan, which costs 895 billion dollars and allows a free ride to illegal aliens (and don't label me as a racist, I married a Mexican man who immigrated here legally).

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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Frances, the reason you have not heard it in the media is that there is no proof. Like you said. You heard stories of people who know people who came down with it. That does not make it fact. That makes it an Urban Legend, by its very definition.

Like this comment
Posted by Tanya Raschke
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 23, 2009 at 7:34 am

Yesterday, I managed to get my children vaccinated with the H1N1 injectable vaccine - in Pennsylvania. I scheduled an appointment online, downloaded and completed the necessary release forms and vaccine information sheets. We drove to the clinic, which was fabulously staffed, including traffic control and parking. Since we had an appointment and brought completed paperwork, we moved into a well-designed, staffed and MOVING line, through about 5 checkpoints, each checking for various items. We had the choice of the nasal spray or injectable vaccine. There were no less than 40 health workers administering vaccine simultaneously. We were in and out in LESS THAN 15 MINUTES! It was remarkable, and drives my point home that our State and County Governments are botching the vaccine distribution. Santa Clara County - get with the program!

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