Could We Face Another Flu Vaccine Shortage?

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Doctor Dean Sienko of the Ingham County Health Department says he does not expect another shortage, but he's not going to make a judgment until all the flu vaccine doses are actually in his hands.

Last year's shortage is blamed on the contamination of the manufacturer Chiron's supply. Chiron is expected to provide 18 to 26 million doses of vaccine this year, but its product has still not received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This could cause another shortage or a delay.

But Dr. Sienko says the nation is better prepared this year due to more manufacturers making the vaccine. GlaxoSmith Kline, Inc. will provide eight-million doses of its new product. Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. will provide 60 million doses. And Medimmune Vaccine will provide three-million doses of its nasal spray vaccine.

Barry-Eaton and Jackson County Health Department medical directors agree with Dr. Sienko. They are planning for, but not expecting a shortage. Even still, the first doses of vaccine will, like last year, go to those in the high-risk category. That category now also includes Hurricane Katrina victims living in shelters.