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6/22/2001

CDC Expects Delay in Distribution of Influenza Vaccine

Donna Young

Sixty-four percent of influenza vaccine doses for the upcoming flu season will be available by the end of October, according to projections released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rest of the 87.7 million doses will be available in November and December.

The bulletin below is the first public announcement from CDC's National Immunization Program acknowledging that a delay in distribution of influenza vaccine for the 2001–02 flu season will occur.

INFLUENZA VACCINE SUPPLY/PRODUCTION

Preliminary information from manufacturers suggests that more influenza vaccine will be available this year than last year, but delays in the distribution of influenza vaccine will occur.

Projected distribution of influenza vaccine for 2001, based on aggregate manufacturers' estimates as of June 15, is 83.7 million doses, which would exceed actual distribution in 1999 and 2000. In addition, 53.5 million doses (64 percent) is projected to be available by the end of October 2001, which is twice the amount, 26.6 million doses, available at the same time last year. However, in comparison to 1999, when there was no delay, 75.8 million or 99 percent of the total vaccine for the 1999 season was available by the end of October. In November and December of 2001, another 30.2 million doses (36 percent) of the total 83.7 million is projected to be available. CDC and FDA stress that these are early projections from manufacturers and could change as the season progresses.

INFLUENZA VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

On the basis of these projections, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has agreed on supplemental recommendations to promote the administration of influenza vaccine that is available early to persons at greatest risk of complications from influenza disease.

The ACIP makes the following recommendations to supplement those published earlier:

1. For providers of influenza vaccine

Providers should actively target vaccine available in September and October to persons at increased risk of influenza complications and to health care workers.

Providers should continue vaccinating patients, especially those at high risk and in other target groups, through December and later, as long as vaccine is available.

2. For the public

Persons at high risk for complications from influenza disease should seek vaccination in September and October, or as soon as vaccine is available from their provider.

Persons who are not at high risk are encouraged to seek influenza vaccine in November and later when additional supply will become available.

3. For mass immunizers

Organizers of mass immunization campaigns not in workplaces should plan campaigns in late-October or November when vaccine supply is assured and make special efforts to vaccinate the elderly and those at high risk of influenza complications

4. For manufacturers, distributors, and vendors

Distribution of vaccine to worksites should be delayed until November.

Vaccine that is available early in the season should be apportioned so that some vaccine is distributed to all other providers who have placed orders.

Manufacturers, distributors, and vendors should inform providers of the amount of vaccine they will receive and date of shipment.

5. For health departments and other organizations providing vaccine

Groups that provide influenza vaccine services should develop contingency plans responding to a delay in vaccine distribution.

INFLUENZA VACCINE COMMUNICATIONS

CDC has launched its 2001-02 influenza season website at www.cdc.gov/nip/flu.

Materials related to this year's influenza season such as current ACIP influenza recommendations, CDC's "Best Practices" guidelines for mass clinics, and Questions and Answers can be found at the website. In addition, the website contains materials that may help providers implement a reminder/recall system. As preparation for the 2001-02 influenza season proceeds, regular communications among CDC, FDA, the vaccine manufacturers and a wide range of partners will continue.