Information About The Flu And The Vaccine That Prevents It - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/05/04

Information About The Flu And The Vaccine That Prevents It

VACCINE SUSPENSION

- The company making half the US flu vaccine says it won't supply any this year.

- This comes because the company, Chiron, has lost a manufacturing license.

- British officials suspended Chiron's license there for three months.

- They said there were problems at the Liverpool, England plant making the vaccine.

- In August, officials discovered contamination at the factory.

- At the time, Chiron said just 4 million doses were affected.

- This comes two weeks after US officials said the FDA tested Chiron's supply and it was fine.

WHAT'S THIS MEAN?

- One official says this will mean a significant shortage of vaccine in the US this year.

- That word is from Doctor Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.

- World health officials say the problem could be significant for other countries too.

- Chiron had planned to ship 46 to 48 million doses of vaccine to the US.

- Just 1 million doses have been sent, but none have been released by the company yet.

- That leaves a decrease of at least 45 million doses, possibly more.

VACCINATION TIME

- Flu shot campaigns usually start in October.

- Flu season generally begins in November.

OTHER SUPPLIERS?

- Aventis Pasteur already planned to send 52 million doses of vaccine to the US.

- They say they are at capacity and can't produce more.

- MedImmune, which makes FluMist, says it can only supply the 1.5 million doses it planned.

- Vaccine producers don't keep much extra stock as they produce on demand.

CHIRON

- Is the second largest manufacturer of flu vaccine, behind Aventis.

- Is based in Emeryville, California.

- The company makes four vaccines, including Fluvirin.

- That's the number two vaccine in the US and the top vaccine in northern Europe.

WHAT IS THE FLU? HOW MANY PEOPLE GET IT?

- Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses of the same name.

- Symptoms include fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.

- The flu can result in illness ranging from mild to life-threatening.

- An estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of US residents get the flu each year.

- An average of 114,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year.

- Some 36,000 Americans die each year from complications of flu.

HOW DOES THE FLU SPREAD?

- The flu can overtake an area quickly. It spreads somewhat easily from person to person.

- The disease moves primarily through respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes.

- Those droplets can travel up to 3 feet and still infect someone.

- Studies show infected people can spread the virus before developing symptoms and up to 7 days after getting sick.

- Flu pandemics, or massive, strong outbreaks, have regularly hit the world.

- There were three in the last century, with the worst being in 1918.

- More than 500,000 Americans died from the flu that year.

- Some scientists say another could arise in coming years.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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