About 60 million Americans have received the swine flu vaccine, including a large proportion of children, a government health official said Tuesday.
That estimate comes as supplies of the H1N1 vaccine have vastly increased, with about 111 million doses available now in places as varied as doctors offices, shopping malls and retail pharmacies.
"That's a lot of vaccine and that's really good news," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About half of Americans have said they want to be vaccinated against the pandemic virus, Schuchat added.
The CDC based the vaccine uptake estimate on two recent surveys. In the first, a CDC study of nearly 1,400 adults and more than 3,000 children, about 46 million people had received the vaccine as of the week of Dec. 6-12. About 46 percent of those were children, Schuchat said.
A second study by Harvard University researchers surveyed 1,600 people Dec. 16 and 17 and estimated that about 56 million people had been vaccinated against swine flu. In that study, three-quarters of parents who tried to get vaccine for their children were able to do so.
Schuchat reminded parents that children younger than 10 need two doses of the vaccine, according to federal studies. About 2 million children had received second doses at the time of the CD study.
"Many Americans who want to be vaccinated have a great chance to in the days ahead," Schuchat said.
However, many Americans also have indicated that they don't intend to get the H1N1 vaccine for themselves or their children. The Harvard study found that 55 percent of adults did not want the vaccine for themselves and about 35 percent of parents wouldn't immunize their children.
Most who rejected the vaccine cited safety reasons as a major factor, the Harvard study said.
With millions more vaccinated against the virus, the safety profile of the vaccine seems strong, Schuchat said.
"We are not seeing any worrisome signs," she said.