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Sick, elderly, children vaccine priorities



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WASHINGTON, Oct 12, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. health officials Tuesday said hospitals, long-term care facilities and healthcare providers who care for children top the flu vaccine priority list.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with Aventis Pasteur to prioritize allocation of 22.4 million doses of the vaccine the pharmaceutical company has not yet distributed. Some 14.2 million doses will be sent to these high-risk targets over the next six to eight weeks, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told reporters in a teleconference call.

The U.S. vaccine shortage was caused when some 48 million doses of flu vaccine expected from Chiron Corp. were canceled because the Emeryville, Calif., company's facilities in England were closed over concerns the vaccine was contaminated.

Gerberding said the "overall goal is to target the vaccine we do have to the people who will get the most benefit ... in a way that's fair and equitable to most people."

The CDC, Chiron and Aventis Pasteur are mapping out where all doses of vaccine were supposed to go, where the biggest needs are and the location of doses already shipped.

U.S. health officials are in England trying to determine if any Chiron doses can be salvaged and are investigating whether vaccine from companies outside the United States meets U.S. regulatory standards and could be purchased.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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