Flu Vaccine Shortage Alert

Oct 5, 2004 -- The US. faces a significant shortage in flu vaccine. This became evident today after Chiron Corp., manufacturer of the influenza vaccine Fluvirin, announced it is unable to release flu vaccine for at least 3 months. Fluvirin, which is manufactured in England, accounts for almost half of the total US influenza vaccine supply.

It has been recommended that the available flu vaccine be reserved for the following high-risk groups, which are considered of equal priority:

  • Children 6 months through 23 months of age.
  • Adults 65 years of age and older.
  • People with chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.
  • Women pregnant during the flu season.
  • Residents of chronic care facilities.
  • Children on chronic aspirin therapy.
  • Healthcare workers with direct patient contact
  • Anyone who cares for or lives with children 0-6 months of age

These guidelines have been jointly agreed upon by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), and the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians).

The inhaled flu vaccine FluMist is appropriate for healthy people 5-49 years of age in close contact with infants 0-6 months of age and for health care workers who are not in contact with severely immunocompromised persons.

Below are two press releases. The first press release is from the CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the second press release is from the Chiron Corporation.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com