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Flu vaccine supply to be less than planned

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Health Department, today announced plans to reduce the adverse local impact of the suspension of the Chiron Corporation’s license to manufacture Fluvirin®, an influenza virus vaccine.

“We encourage health care providers to ensure that available vaccine for this season is targeted first to those who are most vulnerable, which will be defined by the CDC’s advisory committee,” Dr. Archer said.

In order to minimize the spread of disease, Health Department officials are urging everyone to remember to practice infection control measures such as frequently washing their hands and staying home from work and from school when they are sick with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.

The Health Department anticipated receiving the majority of its flu vaccine from Chiron this year. Officials requested and have been placed on a waiting list for 4,000 additional doses of flu vaccine from Aventis, the other FDA-approved provider of flu vaccine. The Health Department does not have any flu vaccine at this time and does not anticipate receiving the vaccine this month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is convening an emergency session of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to revise recommendations for this season to target people at highest risk for complications from influenza.

The license suspension by the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will prevent the company from releasing any of the vaccine during the 2004-05 flu season. The company had not yet released any of the product, so there will not be a recall of the vaccine.

“This is a developing situation and is very fluid. We are working with our federal, state and local public and private health partners to keep everyone updated on the situation,” Dr. Archer added.

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