The United States Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionannounced a serious shortage of influenza vaccine for the 2004-2005 influenza season, which typically runs from December through March and varies by region in duration and severity on Oct. 5.The shortage is due to Food and Drug Administration concerns about possible contamination at Chiron Corporation’s plant in Liverpool, England. Chiron Corporation, based in Emeryville, Calif., is a multi-dimensional company which focuses on biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and blood testing. The 2003-2004 influenza season led to a demand for approximately 87 million doses of flu vaccine. In response to the nation’s increasing needs, the Health and Human Services Department had planned for a vaccine supply of about 100 million doses this season. Chiron was responsible for producing between 46 and 48 million of those doses, none of which are salvageable according to the FDA. Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., based in Bridgewater, N.J., was responsible for producing 54 million doses of influenza vaccine as well as an additional 1-2 million doses of FluMist nasal spray. Although Aventis Pasteur, the human vaccines sector of Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., has produced 55.4 million doses of vaccine for the 2004-2005 influenza season, the United States is still in desperate need of an increased supply. However, due to the length of time required to grow the appropriate vaccine cultures, it appears it will be impossible to significantly increase the current quantity of available vaccine. Clearly, the loss of the Chiron flu vaccine poses a serious challenge to the United States’ supply this season. The University Health Service will be following the CDC recommendations for administering the vaccine. At this time, UHS has 920 doses of the flu vaccine in stock, in addition to 60 doses of FluMist. There are approximately 1,000 people at UR who fall within the CDC priority groups and therefore all available vaccine will be designated to meeting their health needs. UHS appreciates your assistance to ensure that the available vaccine goes to those who truly need it most.If you fall within one or more of the CDC high-risk groups please call UHS at (585) 275-2662 and arrange to receive your shot. However, if you do not fall within one of the CDC’s high risk categories, please forego receiving a flu shot this season. Remember that getting a flu shot is not the only way to prevent against influenza. Use these tips from the CDC to increase your likelihood of staying healthy this flu season:Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Stay home when you are sick and avoid extra visits to the dining halls and library.Help others by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Protect against germs by cleaning your hands often with soap and warm water.Prevent against the spread of unwanted germs by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth.UHS wishes you all a happy, healthy school year. Play safe!Newman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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