It just tickled a bit, said the first recipients of the 2009 H1N1 flu-vaccine nasal spray, which rolled off production lines into cities including New York and Chicago this week, just in time for the official start of the influenza season on Oct. 4. Not everyone who wanted the vaccine got it, though. Only 2.4 million of the government's total order of 251 million doses were released. That isn't nearly enough to satisfy even the early adopters especially since states like New York have mandated flu vaccinations for all health-care workers. But federal health officials decided on frequency over mass, shipping vaccine lots as soon as they're ready rather than waiting for more sizable supplies to accumulate. Meanwhile, the focus on H1N1 has delayed delivery of seasonal-flu shots nationwide, forcing some clinics to postpone their flu-vaccination programs, and has created an epidemic of myth-spreading about the new vaccine (yes, it has been tested; no, it doesn't give you the flu). "It's a little bit of a messy process, and we expect it to be somewhat bumpy in the first few weeks," says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is collecting vaccine orders from states. But with manufacturers planning to release 20 million doses per week, it won't be long, he says, before the country's first mass-vaccination program in 33 years gets smoothly under way.
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