- 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.
- Flu shot campaigns usually start in October.
- Flu season generally begins in November.
- 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.
- 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.