CDC Recommends Flu Shot Priority Rankings

Friday, September 2nd 2005, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA(AP) _ Hoping to avoid last year's flu vaccine shortage, federal health officials Thursday urged doctors and other health officials to give the first batch of flu shots to people at risk of severe complications.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that four companies are lined up to provide vaccine this year. They said they hope the expected supplies will prevent the kind of shortages seen last year and in other recent flu seasons.

But as a precaution, the CDC outlined priority groups that should be vaccinated first. After Oct. 24, shots may be given to everyone who wants them as supplies last, the health agency said.

Earlier this year, CDC officials said they were likely to prioritize certain groups for the vaccination, at least at first. But on Thursday, the government got more specific about timelines and supply data.

The prioritized groups include:

_ People 65 and older who have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for flu complications, such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, asthma and other chronic ailments.

_ People ages 2 to 64 with such underlying conditions.

_ Pregnant women.

_ Children ages 6 months to 23 months.

_ Health care personnel who give direct patient care.

_ Residents of long-term care facilities.

The CDC estimates that at least 75 million doses will be needed to meet the nation's flu vaccine demand this fall and winter. The manufacturers committed to supplying flu vaccine include Sanofi Pasteur Inc. which projects production of 60 million doses; Chiron Corp., which plans 18 to 26 million doses; and GlaxoSmithKline; which plans 8 million doses.

GlaxoSmithKline is new to the provider list this year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its vaccine license on Wednesday.

In addition, plans 3 million doses of FluMist by MedImmune Vaccines Inc. is planned. But that product is recommended only for healthy people between 5 and 49. It contains live virus, and carries with it a slight chance of causing flu symptoms, a CDC spokesman said.