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Federal regulators are planning a more measured approach to flu vaccinations for the 2005-06 flu season
Federal regulators are planning a more measured approach to flu vaccinations for the 2005-06 flu season, telling lawmakers Wednesday it was too early to predict this year's vaccine supply. Progress has been made, they said, in fixing manufacturing problems at Chiron Corp.'s factory in Liverpool, England, where bacterial contamination forced the company to withdraw more than 50 million doses of the vaccine ? almost half the U.S. supply ? from the market last season. Chiron has received British approval to produce the vaccine, but regulators told a congressional hearing that the company had not received a license to produce the vaccine for the U.S. market, reports Los Angeles Times. The elderly and others most at risk from the flu should be the first vaccinated this fall because of lingering uncertainty about vaccine supply, federal health officials said Wednesday. The government is hoping to avoid the flu vaccine shortages of the past winter, when a problem with an overseas manufacturing plant caused the nation's supply to be abruptly cut in half. This year, the Food and Drug Administration is working closely with that manufacturer, Chiron Corp., in hopes that it can sell flu shots here again. To further boost supplies, it also is working with GlaxoSmithKline in its bid to become the nation's fourth vaccine supplier. But it's too soon to tell if those efforts will pay off, Gerberding said. So federal health officials are planning for a worst-case scenario, urging that the people at highest risk of death or other complications from the flu receive the first available vaccinations. If plenty of vaccine is produced after all, the government will tell healthier people to roll up their sleeves. High-risk people include those 65 or older, nursing home residents, anyone with a chronic condition such as heart or lung disease, babies and toddlers ages 6 months to 23 months, pregnant women and health care workers who look after high-risk patients, publishes SF Gate
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