ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct 19, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- President George W. Bush sought to assure Americans Tuesday there would be enough flu shots for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children.
Speaking at a rally in St. Petersburg, Fla., Bush said: "We have millions of vaccine doses on hand for the most vulnerable Americans, and millions more will be shipped in the coming weeks. We're stockpiling more than 4 million doses of flu vaccine for children."
Fear over inadequate flu vaccine supplies arose earlier this month when British regulators stopped shipments to the United States from a major manufacturer because of vaccine contamination. The shutdown cut U.S. supplies almost in half.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 20 million doses of the vaccine for seniors would soon be available.
The CDC estimates more than 100,000 people in the United States are hospitalized because of the flu each year.
Bush had earlier asked Americans not in the vulnerable categories to forego flu vaccinations this year to help ensure the elderly and young children could be protected.
The Kerry campaign has blamed Bush for the vaccine shortage, saying he had ignored earlier warnings about a possible shortage of the vaccine, which few companies manufacture.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.