Ironically, in a year in which a pandemic strain is circling the globe, this is a very real possibility. Right now we know for certain that swine flu vaccines will be in short supply until sometime in 2010. That means not everyone can be vaccinated against the new pandemic virus.
In fact, vaccine manufacturers let it be known in mid August that instead of the initial 120 million doses of swine flu vaccine that they had projected would be made available for distribution to the U.S. population, only 45 million doses are likely to materialize.
Not only is this not great news, we still have no idea yet whether the new vaccine will even offer significant protection - the 2008 seasonal flu vaccine protected only 44 percent of those who received the shot. So the availability and efficacy of swine flu vaccine is still very much up in the air.
Right now this is not a huge concern, because the virus has not claimed a large number of lives. In fact, it has so far caused no more misery than the seasonal flu, which claims up to a half million lives across the globe every year. But that could change quickly, and if the new swine flu strain suddenly proves to be significantly more lethal than it has been, people will want to be vaccinated, and finding themselves denied the shot could be very worrisome.
So who *will* be allowed to get the shot when it first becomes available? First responders to emergencies need to remain healthy, as do doctors and other health workers who will take care of the sick. Members of the military are also likely to go into the line, as are children, who have shown a higher tendency to fall sick, pregnant women, and anyone with cardiac problems, high blood pressure, or other underlying health problems than can cause a lowered immune response.
If you are otherwise healthy, and you are an adult, then you will likely have to go to the back of the line and wait until early 2010 before you can be vaccinated. Given that the U.S. will get its hands on an estimated 45 million doses of the new vaccine by late October, and depending on whether one or two shots are required to invoke an antibody response to the new swine flu, about one seventh (more likely), to one third of the population of the United States could be vaccinated during the first round.
But if you are NOT one of the lucky first to be vaccinated, and the virus does turn significantly worse, all is not lost. There are still antiviral drugs that can be administered to break an infection that has got started in your body. To learn more about your options I recommend that you check out Survive Pandemic Flu, which was written in response to the emergence of the new pandemic. It goes into great detail about pandemic influenza, and what you can do to protect both yourself and your family from the threat.