Healthy Americans Now Encouraged to Seek Influenza Vaccination for 2002-03 Season; CDC Recommendations Urge Persons Aged 50 to 64, Anyone Who Wants to Reduce the Risk of Contracting Influenza to Get Vaccinated in November

SWIFTWATER, Pa.-- Healthy people are encouraged to seek influenza vaccination now, according to recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is ample vaccine available to ensure everyone can be immunized. The CDC and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) expanded their influenza immunization recommendations in 2000 to include vaccination of all 50-64 year olds. Influenza vaccination is also recommended for any healthy person wanting to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

November, December and even January are months designated for all healthy persons to receive the vaccine. The CDC had prioritized available vaccine in October for those considered at high risk for developing severe, potentially life-threatening influenza complications, including anyone over age 65 and persons with chronic medical conditions. Healthy individuals, including those aged 50 to 64, had been asked to postpone getting vaccinated until this month.

"We are pleased to report this will be a record year for influenza vaccine delivery," said Phil Hosbach, vice president, new products and immunization policy, Aventis Pasteur, "and there is no reason for anyone to be unprotected against the flu. We want to thank all healthy people who waited until November to get immunized to ensure that high-risk individuals were the first to be protected. Now it's their turn to go and get vaccinated and protect themselves against infection."

The CDC urges all healthcare providers to continue offering influenza vaccine throughout the season to everyone wanting to protect themselves against influenza disease. This includes all healthy persons as well as individuals considered at high risk, such as the elderly and those with chronic illnesses (e.g., asthma, diabetes); pregnant women who will be in their second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season; household contacts of high-risk individuals; health care workers who care for high-risk patients; and healthy children aged 6 to 23 months, who are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations.

The company is still accepting new orders for shipments of Fluzone vaccine. Healthcare providers can order vaccine by calling 1-800-VACCINE (1- 800-822-2463).

Aventis Pasteur made a significant capital investment in 2001 to expand production of its influenza vaccine, Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine, which increased total capacity by 20 percent. Last month, the company announced shipment of over 43 million doses of influenza vaccine to customers. With over 43 million doses of influenza vaccine on the market for the 2002-2003 influenza season, Fluzone vaccine represents the largest volume of influenza vaccine supplied by one manufacturer to the U.S. market. The company is in the process of evaluating a still greater expansion within the next several years to meet growing demand.

Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine is produced and marketed by Aventis Pasteur Inc., which is located in Swiftwater, PA, and is a subsidiary of Aventis Pasteur SA. Aventis Pasteur Inc. provides the broadest range of human vaccines and biologicals commercially available from any single U.S. vaccine company. It is a leading supplier of vaccines to protect against influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, meningitis, rabies, and typhoid fever.

Source: PRNewswire