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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 21, 2004

HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

HHS Announces Additional Million Doses of Flu Vaccine

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today that the nation will have an additional 1 million doses of the FluMist nasal spray flu vaccine, bringing the total flu vaccine supply this year to 61 million doses. Additionally, there is enough antiviral medicine to treat tens of millions of people for flu this season.

MedImmune, the maker of FluMist, notified Secretary Thompson of the additional doses of the nasal spray vaccine. With the new doses, the nation will have 3 million doses of FluMist, which is approved for use for healthy people between the ages of five and 49 years -- including some people in the priority categories, such as health care workers.

"We have healthy supplies of antiviral medicines and vaccines to help keep you safe from the flu and any complications," Secretary Thompson said. "The combination of the existing 61 million doses of vaccine and antiviral medicines gives us the capability to cope with this year's flu season, even if turns out to be a severe season."

Secretary Thompson said the supply of 61 million doses of flu vaccine includes about 58 million doses of Aventis injectible vaccine and 3 million doses of FluMist nasal spray. There is some potential that more doses may be secured from other sources.

Additionally, Secretary Thompson said seniors shouldn't stand in long lines to wait for the vaccine because Aventis Pasteur is shipping an average of up to 3 million doses of vaccine each week to health care providers around the country.

"We don't want seniors standing in long lines waiting for the vaccine. This is unnecessary and may pose even greater health risks for some seniors than the flu," Secretary Thompson said. "We are still in the early stages of the flu season, and millions more doses of vaccine will be shipped in the coming weeks. There is still time to get vaccinated."

Aventis Pasteur is shipping vaccine each week to health care providers throughout the country who serve the high-priority groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to receive influenza vaccine during the 2004-2005 season. Last week, flu vaccine was sent to the Veterans Administration, long-term care facilities and acute care hospitals, state public health officials, the Vaccines for Children program, and private providers who care for young children.

Secretary Thompson stressed that the influenza vaccine needs to go to those who are most vulnerable and called on those not in priority groups to forgo a vaccine this year. Those in the priority categories include:

  • 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.

"We need to get the influenza vaccine to those who need it most," Secretary Thompson said. "I want to thank those Americans who are helping out in the best traditions of this nation by forgoing their vaccines and leaving it for people who need it most."

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Last Revised: October 22, 2004