Health Highlights: Aug. 18, 2009

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  • Less Swine Flu Vaccine Than Expected by October, U.S. Says
  • Vermont, Hawaii Tops in Healthy Behaviors
  • German Doctors Implant World's Smallest Artificial Heart Pump
  • FDA Approves New Drug for Gaucher Disease

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Less Swine Flu Vaccine Than Expected by October, U.S. Says

Initial production problems mean that only about one-third of the expected 120 million swine flu vaccine doses will be available in the United States by mid-October, federal health officials said Monday.

Even so, there will still be enough to vaccinate people in priority groups such as public health workers, pregnant women, and children under 4 years old, officials said.

"Our priority groups for vaccination have not changed," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall told ABC News. "We still have enough vaccine to cover the priority groups identified."

After the first batch of swine flu vaccine is made available for the start of the mass vaccination campaign in October, manufacturers will continue to produce 20 million doses a week, Hall added.

"Early on, there were issues with production yield, but that has improved significantly over the past several weeks," he told ABC News. Other factors that further slowed swine flu vaccine production have also been resolved, he said.

The news that there will be far fewer than expected swine flu vaccine doses available in October "makes us all a little bit nervous," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

"We won't have as much vaccine to start a vaccine program, and we're worried that we will have people sick that could have been prevented and people in the hospital that could have been prevented," he said Tuesday on Good Morning America.


Vermont, Hawaii Tops in Healthy Behaviors

Residents of Vermont and Hawaii were most likely to practice healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating a wholesome diet, and not smoking during the first six months of 2009, while those in Kentucky and Arkansas had the worse scores, according to national survey results released Monday.

The findings from the AHIP State and Congressional District Resource for Well-Being, a product of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, show a drop for the nation as a whole on the Healthy Behavior Sub-Index, from 63.7 in 2008 to 62.6 in the first half of 2009.

The latest data show that Western, Mountain, and Northeastern states, as well as Florida, had the best scores, while Southern and Midwestern states were at the bottom of the index.

Along with achieving the highest score overall, Vermont residents were the most likely to report frequent exercise and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Ohio residents were least likely to report frequent exercise. Arkansas had the lowest healthful diet score while North Dakota did worse in weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Utah residents were least likely to say they smoked, while people in Kentucky and West Virginia were most likely to say they smoked.


German Doctors Implant World's Smallest Artificial Heart Pump

The world's smallest artificial heart pump was successfully implanted in a 50-year-old women in late July, a German hospital announced Monday.

The three-ounce plastic and titanium pump is touted as being more effective and unobtrusive than earlier devices, Agence France Presse reported. The pump is the fifth generation of the so-called DeBakey Heart pump.

"It can fully replace the function of the heart's left ventricle and works particularly quietly and effectively," said Matthias Karck, director of the cardiac surgery division at the University Hospital of Heidelberg.

Hospital official said the woman who received the heart pump is now leading a normal life with it at home, AFP reported.


FDA Approves New Drug for Gaucher Disease

A new drug can be used to treat patients with a rare genetic disorder called Gaucher disease before the drug gets full marketing approval, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.