U.S. Faces Shortage of Seasonal Flu Vaccines

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The United States is facing a shortage of seasonal flu vaccine even before the regular flu season gets into full swing, federal and independent flu experts say.

Officials said the vaccine shortage was unavoidable because the H1N1 flu pandemic raised demand for all flu shots beyond what manufacturers can produce in a year, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, told a House subcommittee Wednesday officials were “very frustrated” by the shortages, but couldn’t prevent them.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, told the panel the shortage showed “the inexorable connection between preparedness for pandemic flu and preparedness for seasonal flu.”

The shortage of seasonal flu vaccine are being reported across the country, the Times said. Telephone surveys and insurance billing data indicate up to 85 million Americans received seasonal flu shots, CDC spokesman David Daigle said. Last year at this time, only about 61 million had.

Daigle said 113 million doses of vaccine were made last year and about 103 million people took them. From February to May this year, manufacturers produced 114 million doses before they were asked to switch to the H1N1 flu vaccine. About 90 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine were shipped, the CDC spokesman said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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