More than 3 Million Influenza Vaccine Doses Shipped This Week to Health Providers Serving High-Priority Groups
Nearly 3.2 million influenza vaccine doses were shipped this week to health providers serving high priority groups as part of the plan announced on October 12 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Aventis Pasteur. Since October 11, 2004, more than 5 million doses of flu vaccine have been shipped to the following groups:
State Public Health Departments
Department of Veterans Administration
Long-term Care Facilities/Acute Care Hospitals
Vaccines for Children program
Private physicians who care for young children
HMOs and private providers serving high-priority groups
“I am pleased to report that we are making progress in getting vaccine to the people who need it the most. We know people across America need to know when the vaccine will be coming,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. “CDC continues to work with Aventis Pasteur and state and local public health officials to confirm the shipment schedule for the remaining vaccine over the next six weeks.”
CDC this week also asked vaccine providers to contact state and local public health officials when they receive vaccine shipments from Aventis. This notification will help state and local officials to determine which health facilities in their jurisdictions have vaccine and to identify gaps in vaccine distribution.
Beginning the week of October 25, every shipment of influenza vaccine will include a letter from the CDC re-emphasizing the priority groups recommended to receive the vaccine during the 2004-2005 influenza season. The letter also urges vaccine providers to cooperate with state and local health officials to ensure the vaccine is administered to persons in the priority groups.
The approximately 17.6 million remaining doses of vaccine will be shipped to public and private vaccine providers, at a rate of about 2.5-3 million doses per week, through early December. An additional 2.6 million doses of Aventis Pasteur influenza vaccine will be available for shipment in early January 2005.
On October 5, 2004, after Chiron Corporation announced that none of the doses of influenza vaccine it had produced would be available this year, CDC announced priority groups for vaccination for the 2004-2005 influenza season:
all children aged 6-23 months,
adults aged 65 years and older,
persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions,
all women who will be pregnant during influenza season,
residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities,
children 6 months-18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy,
health-care workers with direct patient care, and
out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged <6 months.
Influenza season is unpredictable. In most years, the season peaks between December and March. It is too early to say how severe the 2004-2005 season will be, but to date only sporadic cases have been reported.
Vaccination is the best protection against influenza, but there are alternatives. Antiviral drugs can be used before someone becomes ill to prevent them from getting the flu or taken within 1-2 days of first flu symptoms to reduce the severity of the illness.
The Department of Health and Human Services has purchased a stockpile of antiviral drugs to treat more than 7 million people during the 2004-2005 flu season. Other supplies of the antiviral drugs are available through private health providers. It is estimated that tens of millions of people could be treated this flu season with the antiviral drugs available.
Finally, everyone can take practical steps to help prevent spread of flu:
avoid close contact with people who are sick
keep your distance from others if you’re sick
when possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick, and don’t send your children to daycare or school if they are sick
cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and
clean your hands often.
For more information about the flu, visit the CDC Website: http://www.cdc.gov/flu.