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Shutdown of factory adversely affects flu vaccine supply in U.S.

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Emeryville, California (dpa) - The shutdown of the only factory approved to make the Fluviron vaccine for the U.S. market means millions of healthy Americans who got the flu shot last year will be asked to skip or delay getting them this year to ensure there is enough vaccine for babies and elderly people.

Emeryville, California-based Chiron Corp. said it wouldn't sell any flu shots in the U.S. this season after regulators in Britain shut down its manufacturing plant in Liverpool because it failed to meet manufacturing standards.

As a result, healthy Americans will be asked to "hold off for the good of others" on getting a shot, said Greg Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson called a news conference in Washington Tuesday to assure the public the government was working to make sure the available supply of the vaccine reaches people who are most vulnerable, including infants and adults over age 64.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had set a goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans this year. It had expected Chiron to deliver about half of the nation's supply. Now the other main supplier to the U.S. market, Sanofi-Aventis SA, will have to pick up the slack.

Nevertheless, 30 million or so people who got the vaccine last year who may not have the opportunity this year, Ray Strikas, associate director for adult immunization at the CDC, told Bloomberg financial news service.

Copyright 2004 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


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