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CDC Declares No Shortage of Flu Vaccine, Appearances Not Withstanding


ATLANTA -- Just because doctors may not have received supplies of flu vaccine yet does not mean there is a shortage, the CDC said today.

ATLANTA, Oct. 18 -- Just because doctors may not have received supplies of flu vaccine yet does not mean there is a shortage, the CDC said today.

Despite reports of delays in this year's influenza vaccine supply, about 40 million doses are already in the hands of distributors or health-care providers, the CDC said at a hastily arranged press conference.

"We're still on track to achieve 75 million doses by the end of October," according to Jeanne Santoli, M.D., deputy director of the CDC's immunization services division.

There is "absolutely" is no shortage of vaccine, Dr. Santoli emphasized.

"We feel as though 75 million doses in October is a lot of vaccine," she said. "We've never really used more than about 80 to 83 million doses in a season."

The CDC was responding to reports that some doctors are having difficulty getting vaccine supplies. The American Academy of Pediatrics said this week that parents should expect a delay in getting flu shots for their children, because the vaccine manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, has announced a shipment delay.

Making and distributing vaccine is a "phased process," Dr. Santoli said, which takes place over several months. The result is that not all doctors will have all of their vaccine order at the same time, she added.

"Some providers will have vaccine in their offices before others," Dr. Santoli said.

The CDC tracks how much vaccine has been shipped by the four U.S. manufacturers, she said, but can't tell where it is in the pipeline on any given day. Some may be in the hands of doctors and clinics while some is still in distributors' warehouses.

"Some of that vaccine is out to providers, some of it is now ready to go out to providers, so it's a little bit of a mixture," Dr. Santoli said.

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