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9/17/2004

Latest Prevnar Shortage Over, CDC Says

Kate Traynor

A notice in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) declares an end to the most recent shortage of Prevnar, Wyeth's pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for children, and calls for the immediate reinstatement of the product's four-dose vaccination schedule.

Prevnar was licensed in February 2000 for the prevention of pneumococcal disease in infants and young children and has been subject to recurrent shortages since 2001. The most recent shortage prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February to defer the administration of the fourth scheduled dose in healthy children. Less than a month later, CDC asked health care providers to defer the third and fourth doses.

Throughout the shortage, CDC had emphasized the need to preserve enough vaccine for children at high risk for invasive pneumococcal disease to receive all four doses of Prevnar and for healthy young children to receive at least two doses.

Prevnar is normally administered to children at 2, 4, 6, and 12–15 months of age. Today's MMWR report contains a catch-up schedule that describes the timing of vaccination for children who have missed any of the recommended doses.

In a statement released yesterday, Wyeth official Joe Mahady said that the company plans to "focus on alerting doctors and parents about the reinstated four-dose" schedule.

CDC urged health care providers to contact Wyeth's customer service department at 1-800-666-7248 for information about obtaining the vaccine.