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Some 5 million additional doses of flu vaccine may soon be available to help ease the nationwide shortage.
The doses have been located in Germany and Canada, and U.S. regulators will try to import them for Americans if they meet U.S. safety standards, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said yesterday.
The Food and Drug Administration is sending inspectors to vaccine plants owned by GlaxoSmithKline in Germany and ID Biomedical in Canada to confirm the doses meet U.S. standards.
The new doses would bring to about 66 million the number available about two-thirds of the 100 million hoped for before manufacturer Chiron Corp. lost its license due to contamination at its British vaccine plant.
In New York, health officials are taking steps to make things easier for high risk people who have been spending hours waiting on line at city clinics.
More than 800 predominately elderly people were vaccinated yesterday at a temporary clinic set up on the basketball court of Chelsea Recreation Center on West 25th Street.
Elderly people routinely have been turned away from the Health Department's clinic on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea after that facility uses up its daily allotment of 350 or so shots per day.
But yesterday, the department for one day only moved its flu operations to the larger recreation center two blocks away "to accommodate the larger numbers," and to give everyone who showed up a shot, said spokesman Andrew Tucker.
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