ATLANTA (AP) _ The government asked doctors Thursday to wait until at least November to give flu shots to healthy people because of delays in manufacturing the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said this year's batch of flu vaccine appears to be well-matched to the strains of the virus circling the globe. Because flu strains are unpredictable, different vaccines must be cooked up each year.
The recommendation to limit early shots comes during the second straight year of delays by the three private companies that make the vaccine as they struggle to expand. The CDC had warned of the delay earlier this summer.
The agency wants vaccine that arrives in September and October to be reserved for health care workers and people at high risk for flu, such as those with chronic diseases.
Healthy people should wait until November and, if possible, December, the agency said.
About 56 percent of this year's 79 million vaccine doses were expected to arrive by the end of October.
The flu kills about 20,000 people a year. Those considered most at risk are people 65 and older or those suffering from chronic illnesses such as heart and lung disease, asthma or diabetes.
Flu season typically peaks between January and March.