The following is a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services:
Clearly, the loss of the Chiron flu vaccine poses a serious challenge to our vaccine supply for the upcoming flu season. Chiron was to produce between 46 to 48 million doses of influenza vaccine for the United States. The Department has begun pursuing contingencies for this loss of supply.
We currently anticipate having approximately 54 million doses of influenza vaccine from Aventis and about another 1-2 million doses of FluMist nasal spray. HHS had planned for a vaccine supply of about 100 million doses this season, after a demand of about 87 million doses last flu season.
Our immediate focus will be on making sure that the supply we do have reaches those who are most vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is convening its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to prioritize its recommendations on who should get the flu vaccine for this season based on the new vaccine supply information.
We will need the help of the public, the public health community and the medical community to make sure that the vaccine goes to those who truly need it most.
We are in the process of learning more detailed information about why the UK regulatory authority suspended Chiron's license for three months and whether anything can be done to address the issues involved. The Department of Health and Human Services, including its Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health, are working with their counterparts in the British government as well as Chiron regarding this matter.
The Department also has begun exploring whether more flu vaccine can be manufactured for this flu season. This includes working with Aventis on its ability to provide more vaccine. At this point, however, it is not known whether it's possible to get more vaccine.
HHS and its agencies will make more information available regarding the influenza vaccine supply as it becomes available.