Influenza Vaccine Supply Expected to Meet Demand
CDC Recommends Influenza Vaccinations Begin in October
Sufficient supplies of flu vaccine should be available during the coming influenza season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that everyone wanting to get a flu shot to avoid influenza, regardless of age or health status, should be able to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in October.
CDC estimates that vaccine manufactures will produce approximately 85.5 million doses of influenza vaccine during the 2003 influenza season. This projection represents 9.5 million fewer doses than were produced last year. However, influenza vaccine production is expected to exceed the estimated 79 million doses that were actually sold to providers in 2002.
"Influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and its severe complications," said Dr. Walter Orenstein, director of the CDC National Immunization Program. "The best time to be vaccinated against influenza continues to be October and November. However, vaccination in December or later can still be beneficial."
Although anyone who wishes to avoid influenza should be vaccinated, CDC strongly recommends influenza vaccination as soon as vaccine is available for any person who is 6-months old or older and is at increased risk for complications from influenza. Those at highest risk for complications from influenza include people 65-years old and older, those with chronic, long-term health problems such as heart or lung disease, kidney problems, diabetes, asthma, anemia, HIV/AIDS or any other illness that suppress the immune system. CDC also recommends vaccination for people age 50 to 64 years because this group has an increased prevalence among those with high risk conditions. In addition, healthcare workers and others in close contact with those at high risk should be vaccinated in order to reduce the possibility of transmitting influenza to those at high risk.
Because young children also are at increased risk of influenza-related complications, vaccination of children 6 to 23 months old, their household contacts and out-of-home caregivers are encouraged to be vaccinated against influenza.
"Protect yourself and those you love against influenza," Orenstein said. "Get your influenza vaccine."
Production and distribution of the influenza vaccine was delayed in the years 2000 and 2001. These delays prompted CDC to recommend that people 65 years of age and older and people with health conditions that put them at high risk for complications from influenza be the first to receive the vaccine. This recommendation helped to ensure that an adequate vaccine supply was available to those at the greatest risk. Individuals without risk factors were asked to wait until November to receive their vaccinations.
Influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations each year. More than 90 percent of deaths occur among people age 65 and older.
Winter is the prime time for influenza. Influenza season typically ranges from November through March or beyond. Flu activity peaked in January or later during 22 of the past 26 influenza seasons. Heaviest influenza activity occurred in December in four years, January in six years, February in 11 years, March in three years, April one year and in May one year.
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