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Flu Hits Hard - Not Enough Vaccine
New Strain of Seasonal Illness Has Some Areas Scrambling for Enough Vaccine

December 19, 2003

The flu has already been classified as widespread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in thirteen states from Alaska to Pennsylvania, and officials say it may penetrate further into more.

While experts say the emergence of the Fujian strain doesn’t represent the beginning of a ’flu pandemic’, similar to the 1918 outbreak of -Spanish Flu- that killed over 40 million people worldwide, long feared in public health circles, its severity has prompted a run on flu vaccines across the country. 80 million doses of the vaccine, enough to satisfy demand in an ordinary year, have already been shipped by manufacturers. However, providers are running low. By December 8th , the Clark County Health Department - which services the Las Vegas metro area - was down to 1,000 doses of the vaccine, from an original supply of 25,000, and expected to run out within days. In Indiana, providers who normally vaccinate into January predict they’ll run out by the end of December.

The vaccine, effective in preventing the disease and mitigating complications in most who receive it, is recommended for children, pregnant women and anyone over 50. The CDC urges those who need it to be persistent in trying to find locations where vaccination is available. An alternative to the more common vaccine injection, FluMist - a commercial nasal spray vaccine by MedImmune - is approved for use by adults under 50, and is still widely available.

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