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Flu Shot Season Arrives



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting It's the time of year when people start thinking about getting a flu shot. A manufacturing problem had delayed shipments intended to arrive over the summer.

So will there be enough flu vaccines for everyone?

Bay Area biotech giant Chiron says there will be enough flu vaccine to meet the nation's need.

This year, a record 100 million doses will be available to Americans. Roughly half of those doses will come from Chiron. The head of its vaccine division recently testified that these doses should arrive any day now, which is when most Americans get vaccinated against the bug.

Last year, the flu season came on fast and furious. The bug infected people before they got vaccinated and killed the most vulnerable -- the elderly and young children. This year, the government is wasting no time in urging high-risk Americans to get flu shots now.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda/ Centers for Disease Control: "What we really stress is that October and November really right now is the best time to get vaccinated."

On average, 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die every year from the flu. Health officials say a look at the numbers will tell you why

Of people 65 and older, only 60% are vaccinated. Children with asthma are also vulnerable, but only 30% get the shot. The government recently encouraged vaccinations for kids aged six months to two years, but in 2002, only 4.4% in that group got the shots.

Of the children who died last year, most were healthy, with no underlying medical problem to increase their risk of complications.

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