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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Aventis Pasteur has announced the first phase of the plan to allocate influenza vaccine in response to the recently announced loss of half of the nations expected flu vaccine supply for the 2004-2005 season. The plan, announced by CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding and Aventis Pasteur US president Damian Braga, calls for CDC to work closely with Aventis to distribute in phases 22.4 million doses of unshipped vaccine to identified areas of need throughout the country.
Beginning immediately, about 14.2 million doses of vaccine will be allocated over the next 6-8 weeks through Aventis Pasteur contracts directly to high-priority vaccine providers, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and private providers who care for young children.
This plan will help ensure that vaccine gets to those people who need it most," said Gerberding. "This is a troubling, frustrating situation for all of us and we need for all Americans to pull together in the weeks to come to meet this challenge head on. This plan is the result of unprecedented collaboration between CDC, Aventis Pasteur, and state and local health departments across the country. And we must not forget the other public health heroes on the front lines in grocery stores, pharmacies, and health clinics working to prioritize vaccine.
CDC will continue to work with Aventis Pasteur and state and local health departments to identify people, by region, on the vaccination priority list. The approximately 8.2 million doses remaining after the first phase is completed will be shipped to other high-need areas.
Since Dr. Gerberding contacted us last week, we at Aventis Pasteur have worked with the CDC around the clock to tackle the complex task of getting millions of doses of influenza vaccine to thousands of health care providers around the country. Our goal has been to direct remaining doses as quickly as possible to those areas where large numbers of at-risk individuals are in need," said Braga. "It is a huge logistical feat and we are proud to have contributed our knowledge and expertise to this plan."
Last week CDC announced priority groups for vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccine for the 2004-2005 influenza season:
Influenza season typically peaks in the United States between December and March. Because each season is unpredictable, its not known how severe the 2004-2005 season might be.
Although vaccination is the best protection against influenza, everyone can take practical steps to help prevent spread of flu, such as avoiding close contact with people who are sick and keeping your distance from others if youre sick; when possible, staying home from work, school, and errands when you are sick; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cleaning your hands often.
For more information about the flu and this years recommendations, visit the CDC Website: www.cdc.gov/flu.