Overprotective mothers and grandmothers, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief: Malia and Sasha Obama have received swine flu vaccines, the White House announced.
Ending speculation about whether the first family was getting vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, the first lady’s spokeswoman said the girls, 11 and 8, were vaccinated last week.
“The girls' H1N1 vaccine was administered by a White House physician, who applied for and received the vaccine from the DC Department of Health using the same process as every other vaccination site in the District,” spokeswoman Catherine Mccormick-Lelyveld explained on the White House blog.
By allowing his daughters to be vaccinated, President Obama is trying to send a message that the swine flu vaccine is safe. But even as his daughters received their shots, some wondered whether the girls were given special treatment, given the shortage of H1N1 vaccine that has been reported.
Early on, the government said 120 million vaccines would be ready by mid-October, but despite lowering projections to 45 million doses, less than half that amount has been shipped out to pharmacies nationwide. While health officials are blaming manufacturing delays, many frustrated parents have stood in line for hours at vaccine clinics nationwide.
To date, the H1N1 virus is widespread in at last 46 states, according to the Wall Street Journal’s flu tracker, and health authorities say it has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, mostly those with underlying medical conditions.
Last weekend, President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health secretary the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to protect patients not infected with H1N1.
In fact, a case of swine flu was recently reported on the campus of Sidwell Friends School, where Malia attends middle school. But according to reports, the case was found in the Upper School, and both Obama girls are healthy.
What about their parents? “All four members of the Obama family have received their seasonal flu vaccine,” reported the White House blog. But only the girls received the H1N1 shot: “President and Mrs. Obama have not yet been vaccinated for H1N1, and they will wait until the needs of the priority groups identified by the CDC — including young people under the age of 24, pregnant women, and people with underlying conditions — have been met.”